Hi! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

My experience with the Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is an aptitude test taken by medical students and graduates as part of the application for the 2-year UK Foundation Programme (UKFP) and the Foundation Year 2 (F2) Stand-alone Programme. Applicants are ranked based on the SJT score.

In the past, the SJT was a paper-based exam held only in UK. UK medical students would take it at their own medical schools, NUMed students had to sit for it at Newcastle University UK, while students from non-UK medical schools had to sit for it at an exam centre in London.

I had applied for UKFP 2019 and UKFP 2020. Both times, my application got withdrawn because I didn't take the SJT. I was happy to travel to UK for the SJT, especially when I hadn't explored UK enough during my elective in Stage 4 of MBBS. However, the fact was that flying to UK and back would cost a lot of money and I didn't want to waste it.

In February 2020, the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) announced a change to the delivery of the SJT. The SJT is now held either at Pearson VUE centres or through online. This is to help encourage more foreign doctors to apply for UKFP to address the shortage of doctors in UK caused by Brexit. The Covid-19 pandemic hadn't started when the decision was made for the change. The format of questions for the SJT was also changed. Previously, the SJT only had ranking and multiple-choice questions, but now, rating questions have been added.

When I applied for UKFP 2021, I could finally sit for the SJT. The new delivery of the SJT certainly makes it more accessible for NUMed students and graduates. However, it has its issues as well. There are no Pearson VUE centres in Malaysia and the nearest one is in Singapore. Travelling to Singapore was difficult due to the Covid-19 situation.

Therefore, the only option for me was to sit for the SJT online. To prevent cheating, it has to be taken in a quiet room using a proctoring software. It can feel quite creepy to be monitored by the proctor through the webcam all the time during the exam. There's also computer and internet connection issues to consider about.

In my opinion, the ideal solution would be to let UK medical schools, including NUMed, deliver the SJT in the paper-based format like previously, while allowing those from non-UK medical schools to take the SJT online or at Pearson VUE centres. If only the UKFPO is willing to consider this.

My original plan was to take the SJT in my room at EcoNest. However, the internet connection at EcoNest was rather unstable. Thankfully, NUMed provided individual rooms with computers on campus for those who were taking the SJT. The proctoring software is still required as NUMed is not able to invigilate the exam.

Although officially there is no pass or fail in the SJT for the 2-year UKFP, scores below a certain threshold are considered exceptionally low SJT scores, which is essentially a fail as those with such a score would be required to attend a review.

I definitely wanted to pass the SJT and I hoped to get a score as high as possible. To prepare for the SJT, I used these two books: Oxford Assess and Progress Situational Judgement Test and Get Ahead! The Situational Judgement Test. I did the SJT practice questions on the UKFPO website and on PassMedicine. I also went through the SJT revision resources provided by NUMed.

I decided to take the SJT at NUMed on 17 December 2020. The SJT was 2 hours and 20 minutes long and it went smoothly without any issues. The questions were moderately difficult and I felt that I answered them fairly well. However, I ran out of time before I could answer the last 2 questions.

On 11 March 2021, the SJT results for UKFP 2021 was released. I passed the SJT successfully with a score of 35.5 out of 50. The mean score was 39.4, so my score was below average. However, I still scored high enough to be allocated to my first ranked foundation school, Northern. Therefore, I was quite satisfied with my score.

I withdrew my UKFP 2021 offer in June 2021. Subsequently, I began my house officer training at Kluang hospital in August 2021. However, I decided to apply for UKFP 2022 as a backup option. I had to sit for the SJT through online again.

As my house in Kluang didn't have a stable internet connection, I chose to take the SJT at NUMed. I travelled to Johor Bahru and took the SJT at NUMed on 13 December 2021. I found the questions a bit easier compared to the previous year and I managed to complete all questions within the time limit. There were no technical issues.

On 10 March 2022, the SJT results for UKFP 2022 was released. I got a score of 39.2 out of 50, which is a significant improvement from the previous year. Once again, I got allocated to Northern which is my first ranked foundation school. I am definitely happy with my score.

I withdrew from the UKFP 2022 in July 2022. After I completed the 3rd posting of my house officer training at Kluang hospital in December 2022, I became eligible for full registration with the UK General Medical Council (GMC). I decided to apply for the F2 Stand-alone Programme 2023. Once again, I had to sit for the SJT.

The SJT was first introduced for the F2 Stand-alone Programme in 2021. It's also held either at Pearson VUE centres or through online. Unlike the SJT for the 2-year UKFP which has rating, ranking and multiple-choice questions, the SJT for the F2 Stand-alone Programme only has rating questions. Getting into the F2 Stand-alone Programme is much more competitive compared to the 2-year UKFP, so only those who get a very high score in the SJT will be shortlisted and they will have to attend an interview.

Now that I had a stable internet connection at my house in Kluang, I chose to take the SJT at home. The SJT was on 1 March 2023. I found the questions being equivalent in difficulty compared to that of the SJT for UKFP 2022. I could finish answering all questions within the time limit and there were no technical issues.

On 28 March 2023, the SJT results for F2 Stand-alone Programme 2023 was released. I successfully got a very high score of 368 out of 431. With that, I got shortlisted for the interview. I am definitely very delighted about my score.

The interview was held online through Microsoft Teams on 18 April 2023. I felt that I performed fairly well in the interview. The results of the interview was released on 26 April 2023. I passed the interview with a score of 71% and I was ranked 149. A total of 157 places were available for the F2 Stand-alone Programme 2023, enabling me to get a place successfully. I was offered a place in the Northern foundation school.

In June 2023, the UKFPO decided to abolish the SJT for the 2-year UKFP starting from 2024. Instead, every UKFP applicant will be given a random computer-generated ranking. Personally, I think this is a very bad move. The SJT has always been the fairest way to rank UKFP applicants. The change means that UKFP applicants will not have any control over the ranking they will get, it will be purely based on luck. However, the SJT will remain for the F2 Stand-alone Programme.