The study set out to consider whether the ‘end-of-firm’ examination in psychiatry fulfils its goals by examining the internal consistency of the end-of-firm examination and final medical board examination and the correlation between these examinations' scores and sub-scores. Students who failed their end-of-firm examination were followed to monitor their progress at final medical board examinations.
One hundred and eighty students sat end-of-firm examinations and final medical board examinations. All the components of the end-of-firm examinations and the final correlated significantly with the total mark. The psychiatric essay was less well correlated with the final mark but correlated well with total essay marks. Students who failed their end-of-firm psychiatry examination at first attempt received extra tuition and only two failed finals.
Essay writing ability may not carry over into high performance in other areas tested and may be a test of other skills. Extra tuition benefited failing students whose results fell outside the pattern of prediction. Thus the end-of-firm examination may be a useful tool if acted on to prevent student failure.
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