Exam marking error “won’t happen again”

A RANGE of measures have been put in place to ensure this year’s exam paper marking errors are not repeated.

The pledge was made by the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC) following an independent review into the FP2013 entry process.

The UKFPO was forced to reassess the allocations of 7,535 applicants earlier this year due to a scanning error in the situational judgement test (SJT). Of all the applicants affected, 98 per cent were given the same allocation but 148 were moved to different posts.

An independent review has been carried out by Professor John McLachlan in a bid to find out what went wrong and a series of recommendations has been made.

The UKFPO and the MSC said they “deeply regret the scanning error” and the subsequent re-allocation process that followed in February/March, giving their thanks to the medical students involved “for their patience and understanding in those difficult circumstances.”

They added: “The UKFPO and the MSC wish to reassure all involved that additional steps are in place ahead of FP 2014 to ensure that the situation does not happen again.” The SJT and EPM remain, they say, the “most appropriate methods for selection to the Foundation Programme 2014.”

Among the responses to the recommendations, the UKFPO has agreed that, where the process is “selection for employment”, the criteria by which candidates are deemed unappointable will be made explicit in advance.

Agreement will also be sought from failing candidates in future for their exam scores to be shared with their medical schools to help with the development of a remediation programme, should the schools wish to establish one.

Practical measures will also be introduced to the marking process, including “extensive enhanced and additional quality checks” at the point of scanning. More time will also be allowed for scanning and verification of data and the MSC will liaise closely with the relevant scanning company.

The final recommendation is to ensure consistency across all exam sites in ensuring no points are awarded for SJT answers transcribed to response sheets after the expiry of the two hours 20 minutes time limit.

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