Situational Judgement Test

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The Situational Judgement Test is an assessment of the attributes of a Foundation Year 1 doctor. Combined with the Educational Performance Measure, which is a measure of how medical students have performed academically, the Situational Judgement Test is used to rank and allocate graduates to their Foundation Year 1 roles. The Medical Schools Council led in its development and MSC Assessment administers its delivery each year.

The attributes assessed through the Situational Judgement Test are drawn from the job specification of the Foundation Year 1 doctor, which includes team-working, leadership and patient-centred care. The assessment is not a barrier for graduation, which is determined only by academic performance and fitness to practise. It is a means of ranking applicants to the Foundation Programme according to their grasp of the occupational aspects of being a doctor, and then, combined with a measure of their academic performance, allocating them to work placements.

The questions each offer a work-based scenario and ask applicants to rank a number of responses according to how appropriate they are. Senior clinicians and Foundation Programme advisers help write and review questions. This process is facilitated by the Work Psychology Group. Administrative staff from the medical schools play a major role in the coordinated national delivery of the assessment. 

For information relating to application to the Foundation Programme, please see the website of the UK Foundation Programme Office, which manages the recruitment rules, eligibility and the application portal. 


A 2008 review by the Department of Health on selection to Foundation Programme training highlighted issues with the assessment formats of the time. The ‘white space’ format of questions, answered in students’ own time, did not effectively mitigate against plagiarism, while the quartile-based measure of academic attainment was not calculated uniformly between medical schools. It was advised that more reliable tools be developed for selection to the Foundation Programme. 

In 2011, the Department of Health commissioned the Medical Schools Council to lead a project group to review potential alternatives. Following the group’s recommendations, the Medical Schools Council led work to pilot and develop both the Situational Judgement Test, an invigilated assessment developed through extensive psychometric analysis, and the Educational Performance Measure, a decile-based measure which allows for greater differentiation between applicants and consistency between medical schools. Both elements were introduced in 2013.

In 2015, Work Psychology Group published a study into the predictive validity of the new selection methods. It affirmed that poor performance in the Situational Judgement Test predicted future poor performance on the Foundation Programme, and that good performance in the Educational Performance Measure predicted future good performance on the Foundation Programme. 

For more on the development and rationale for the Situational Judgement Test and Educational Performance Measure, see the Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme website.