11 tips to help you boost your Foundation SJT exam scores

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) for final year medical students plays an important part in your ranking for the applications for the Foundation Programme (UKFP). Whether you have a great Educational Performance Measure (EPM) score or not, the SJT will influence which placement you get.

In this article, Dr Mahibur Rahman discusses some key tips to help you improve your score so you can get the placement that you want.

Continue reading “11 tips to help you boost your Foundation SJT exam scores”

How I got my 1st choice Foundation rotation – SJT preparation tips from a high scorer

The Foundation SJT is an important part in your overall FPAS ranking, and getting a good score will improve your chances of getting your 1st choice rotation. In this article, Dr Sarah Levy discusses how she managed to score 49.16 in the SJT (this is in the top 1% in the country) and her tips on how to do well in the SJT.

How I prepared for the Foundation SJT

I sat the SJT on the 1st December 2017 and probably first starting thinking about it at the end of October when I attended an information session run by my medical school where they discussed the format of the exam and gave advice on how best to prepare. I was fortunate to attend three further preparatory session delivered by my medical school, which involved running through various questions and discussing possible strategies for how to go about selecting answers. However, the main take-home message that I personally got from these sessions was that it is tricky to know how best to prepare for the SJT aside from practicing the official questions available online.

Test Quiz

I am inclined to agree that perhaps the most important thing I did to prepare was to do the official questions available online. I did these under exam conditions, including printing out the answer sheet example. This was useful to familiarise myself with the timings of the exam, and also with how to fill in the answer sheet (it is surprisingly easy to lose concentration momentarily and accidentally fill in the answers in the wrong order!)  I also bought one book with practice questions and borrowed another book, and spent perhaps around 8 hours in total working through questions from these books. I found that whilst some of the questions and explanations were useful, they were not hugely similar to the questions asked in the actual exam with some being far too easy and others being very difficult with unclear explanations which left me still believing my original answers to be correct. I also attended an Emedica SJT course (discussed in detail below), which proved very useful in my preparations.

Another resource that I found helpful to use in my preparations was the GMC’s “Good medical practice” document and the Ethical Guidance section of their website. The “GMP in action: GMC guidance brought to life” scenarios provided a huge array of different dilemmas that can come up in clinical practice (and in the SJT) along with explanations of how best to deal with them.

Retrospectively, having sat the SJT and achieved a score that I was very pleased with, I think that much of the “preparation” that I did was actually done subconsciously when spending time on the wards.

Female doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patient

Many of the questions I encountered in the SJT had similarities to the sort of situations that medical students witness when on clinical attachments. Whilst clearly these situations are not always dealt with in the correct way suggested by the SJT answers, I found it useful to have previously thought about such situations and how I might act if/when they were to occur in my own life. I also found it helpful during the test to think about doctors who I had found to be particularly competent and contemplate about how they might act in each given situation.

Emedica SJT course

I did the Emedica SJT course a couple of weeks before I sat the SJT, and found it to be a very beneficial experience. I was fortunate to be able to do the course a mere 20 minutes from my house but met others there who had travelled literally half way up the country to attend and also agreed it was worthwhile! Dr Rahman gave helpful hints and tips on how to tackle the SJT as well as reviewing core knowledge relating to ethics, confidentiality, consent etc.

We also went through numerous questions together and were given clear and concise explanations which I was able to learn from and later recall when answering similar questions. It was also useful to go through a mock SJT exam which again gave an idea of the timings required. The course was efficient and all the staff I encountered were friendly and welcoming. It also put my mind at ease and meant I was more confident on the test day itself. The most useful things I took away from the Emedica SJT preparation course were an improved awareness of the importance of good time management, a better familiarity with the different question types (including the newer ones) and how best to tackle them, and a sense of the importance of remaining calm on the day.

My tips for exam day

In terms of preparing for the day itself, I would recommend having a relaxed evening the night before to try and clear your head. This is probably good advice before any exam (although sometimes hard to take!) but I think it is especially relevant for the SJT which is not an exam that can be approached with fact-cramming in the hours beforehand. Personally I relaxed by phoning friends and family for a chat and reading a book before having an early night.

On the actual day, I made sure to have a decent breakfast and some coffee (but not too much!)  I found the exam itself to be tight for time, so it is important to read the questions quickly and ensure that you don’t run out of time at the end. For me, the latter “select 3” questions were quicker to complete than the initial “rank the 5 options in order of best to worst” questions. This may be worth bearing in mind when working out how best to manage your time during the exam.


In summary, from my own experiences of sitting the SJT, I would recommend specifically practicing and reviewing all the official questions available and thoroughly familiarising yourself with the format and time constraints of the test itself. I found the Emedica SJT course to be helpful and concise, and an important part of my SJT preparations.

Dr Sarah Levy scored 49.16 in her Foundation SJT and is now in her FY1 year in her 1st choice programme in the North Central and East London Foundation Programme!

10 tips for new doctors

Starting your first job as a qualified doctor can be exciting, but it can also be scary and comes with lots of challenges. In this article, Dr. Mahibur Rahman looks at 10 tips to help you in your first post.

1. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions!

Even if you have spent a period shadowing the doctor you will be replacing, there will be lots of things that will be new to you when you start working. Some things will be specific to that ward (like where they keep specific forms), some will be specific to that hospital, or department, some will even be specific to each consultant you work with. If there is anything you are unsure of, don’t be scared to ask. You may feel shy or embarrassed, but it is important to overcome this and ask so that you can do your job properly rather than pretend you know what to do or where to go and then cause problems.

2. Eat, drink, take a break

It is easy to get caught up with all the requests from the ward, patients waiting to be clerked in the emergency department and find that you have gone without any food, drink or a rest and it is almost the end of your shift. The first few days, you may not realise as you are fuelled by adrenaline, but this is not sustainable. Make sure that you have some proper food, away from a desk at lunchtime. Stay hydrated with water, tea / coffee throughout the day. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the different tasks on your list, but it is important to take a break for a few minutes to recharge yourself. Apart from a cardiac arrest or something of similar urgency, most tasks can wait 5-10 minutes.

3. Remember everybody is nervous

It is normal to feel nervous your first time doing anything as a qualified doctor – and the second, third, and fourth time in some cases! You won’t be the only one feeling nervous, so if you need some help or want to talk a procedure over with a senior colleague or look something up, it is fine! We won’t think less of you – in fact I prefer the junior colleague who admits when they are unsure and asks for help, especially early on. Remember we all had similar experiences when we started.

4. We all make mistakes – take responsibility

There will be times you won’t be able to find a vein to take blood, when you will attempt to cannulate 3 times and get nowhere, or fill in a form incorrectly. Own your mistakes. Admit it, apologise for it, and do what you can to fix it. Sometimes you will have to ask someone senior to help with this – this is part of your learning and we are all human. What you shouldn’t do is try to cover up a mistake, or shift the blame to someone else. Eventually this will lead to more serious problems.

5. Watch out for yourself and your colleagues

We all know that medicine can be stressful, and there are comparatively high numbers of doctors that suffer from things like depression, stress, alcohol and drug dependence. As well as looking after yourself and ensuring you seek help from your own GP if you feel you are becoming unwell, watch out for any signs that your colleagues might need support.

6. Medicine is a team sport

Looking after our patients’ needs will involve lots of team members. As well as doctors, there are the nurses, health care assistants, ward clerks, secretaries, porters, radiographers, cleaners and many more. Acknowledge the role others in the team play – say thank you, get to know them and they will help you when you need them. Bring in some treats for the nursing team on your main ward once in a while and see the benefits!

7. Smile, and the world smiles with you

Although you may be tired and or stressed out, remember that your patient may be in pain, worried, scared, feeling sick and emotional. In most situations, a smile goes a long way make the patient a little more comfortable. Of course, there are times when you may need to avoid smiling e.g. if you are breaking bad news or if a patient is angry and they might mistake a smile as you not taking their situation seriously, but hopefully you will be able to recognise this early on. Similarly, your colleagues may be feeling tired or stressed if the shift is really busy – your smile may help lift them up and boost their morale a little bit.

8. Don’t forget “My name is…”

Start every interaction with a patient with a polite, professional introduction, let them know your name and your role as one of the doctors in the team. It is not only common courtesy, but it will help start your consultation or assessment on the right foot.

9. Plan ahead

Try to meet with the other junior doctors early on and plan any dates when you need someone to cover your on call so you can go to a family event, or attend a course. Plan your holidays in advance and try to book a break – knowing something is booked can give you something to look forward to which can help you get through those tough shifts or difficult weeks.

10. Wear sensible shoes

You will be on your feet and do a lot of walking (and occasionally running) as a junior doctor. From doing ward rounds, taking emergency bloods to the lab, going to radiology to request scans, going back and forth to the emergency department to clerk in new patients and going up and down stairs to respond to pager requests from different wards and running to cardiac arrests. Buying some smart but comfortable shoes will make a real difference by the end of the shift!

I hope these tips are helpful and I wish you all the best in your new job – welcome to the medical profession! Please do add your own tips in the comments and share this with any of your friends who are starting as junior doctors!

Dr. Mahibur Rahman is a portfolio GP, the medical director of Emedica, and a consultant in medical education. He qualified as a doctor in 2001 and as a GP in 2007.

Foundation SJT tips from a high scorer – how I got my 1st choice Foundation programme

The Foundation SJT is an important part of the application process for entering the Foundation Programme (FPAS). In this article, Niamh Rogers explains how she managed to score amongst the top 2% of over 8,000 candidates that took the SJT for Foundation Programme entry in her year. She scored 45.42 and got a place in her 1st choice Foundation Programme, Northern Ireland.

Foundation SJT

The Foundation SJT

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is an exam that is now faced by all final year medical students hoping to gain a Foundation Programme training place in the United Kingdom. As the exam itself has only recently been brought in as a method of selecting candidates to training posts, a lot of speculation and anxiety surrounds the test. The fact that the SJT accounts for 50% of all marks available means that for most students this exam is the single most determining factor in allocation of foundation schools and house officer jobs. I was lucky enough to achieve a high score, placing me in my first choice deanery with my choice of jobs. Here is my experience of preparing for the situational judgement test and hints and tips for performing well on the day.

Emedica Foundation SJT Course

I booked one SJT preparation course, Emedica, to tackle the SJT. I choose Emedica because although the SJT is new for medical students, it has been used for doctors in GP training since 2007, and Emedica has been running courses for it since it began. As my SJT assessment date was in December I made sure to book the earliest course in October to give myself sufficient time to practice.

The course itself was excellent and gave me both the confidence and knowledge to know how to prepare for the exam. Emedica explained the different types of question styles, how to go about structuring your time (in what was an extremely time pressured exam) and to rank each option for the question at face value.

The mock test at the end of the day was a good insight into the process of the exam and the mark obtained was translated into points like in the real SJT.

Preparing for the Exam

The SJT isn’t an exam you can cram for! Speaking from the biggest crammer of every exam going, I soon realised that the SJT was more a “way of thinking ” than something you could learn with intense days of revision before the test. As I was revising for medical finals and doing A&E placements I knew that I would have to schedule some time to practice questions. I found that by doing around 30/45 minutes of questions 3/4 evenings a week, after I had finished revision for the evening, very manageable.

This is where going to the Emedica SJT course came into its own. There are vast numbers of SJT books with hugely varying quality between them. The Emedica course provided you with a question bank that was split into smaller sections- perfect for completing small stints of practice. The questions accurately reflected the content, length and difficulty of questions in the exam.

Initially I didn’t practice timed- I wanted to thoroughly understand why each option was in the order stated. I felt that by understanding why exactly the options ranked in a certain order , it would give me a better insight into what the exam was testing. With about two weeks to go I started timing myself and always tried to use blank answer sheets so that it would become second nature on the day.

I printed out the sample paper online along with a blank mark sheet, and over the course of my revision I did this exam x3 times. I felt that repeating questions helpful as often I was getting the same questions wrong .

Two other SJT books I found useful were Situational Judgement Test for the Foundation Years Programme by Dr Omar Taha and Dr Mizanul Hoque and Get Ahead ! The Situational Judgement Test. These were handy to have in your bag whilst travelling or having a spare few minutes when you could look at question or two.

Exam Day

In order to focus for the exam I had an early night’s sleep, went for a run that morning and made sure to have a good breakfast before the exam. The exam is long and timing is a big factor. I made a mental note of what question I should be on at 30 min intervals and wrote this down on the front of the exam paper when I sat down. Make sure you use the bathroom before you start as the exam is 2 hours 20 minutes long!

I highlighted key words in each question (each word is used specifically as the exam is developed by subject experts and psychologists) . I numbered my order on the exam paper and once happy with my answer, transferred it to the answer sheet. I found using a ruler helped focus my eye and made sure I wrote my answer in the correct box. I went through the paper systematically. I circled some questions that I felt I could spend more time on and returned to them at the end.

In summary, the SJT is a high stakes exam that can be prepared for. Practice little and often can boost your score and give you confidence on the day of the exam. Being extremely familiar with the format of the paper and the answer sheet and preparing mentally to focus for an intense 140 minutes are key factors to succeeding in the SJT.

Best of luck!

Niamh Rogers

Final Year Medical Student Norwich Medical School

Niamh  scored 45.42 (within the top 2% in the country) and got a place in her 1st choice Foundation Programme, Northern Ireland.

Foundation SJT Course

Foundation SJT course review – preparing for the FPAS SJT exam

The Foundation SJT exam plays a large part in determining which Foundation rotation you get placed in. In this post, a final year medical student from Glasgow shares his thoughts on the Emedica SJT preparation course.100281534

So recently I sat the situational judgement test (SJT), a test that every final year medical student who wants to work in the UK has to sit. The score in this test is given 50% of the total score used to rank medical graduates in the process through which they’re allocated to foundation schools across the country. Everything else one has done in medical school and before including grades, extra degrees, publications, prizes, merits and distinctions all account for the other 50% (aka EPM score). In fact the lowest EPM score one can get is 34 out of 50 while with the SJT one can get anywhere between 0 and 50 which makes the SJT all the more important. In other words this 140-minute test pretty much determines where in the country I’ll work for the first two years as a doctor, and which hospitals and rotations I get. This could potentially have a knock-on effect on where I’ll end up in the long-term and which specialty I will get into.

Needless to say I was getting anxious in the run up to the exam. This year was only the 3rd year this test has been used so the available information about it was still relatively scarce, with only 1 official practice paper released by the UK foundation programme office (UKFPO).  There are several preparation books and online question banks but they were getting varying reviews and most of their questions were not similar in difficulty level to the official ones.

There were also at least 2 revision courses that I was aware of that were being advertised. One of them was in its first year, and the other one, by Emedica, had been going on for three years. A quick search on Google revealed that Emedica has also been running GP SJTs for several years. The search also led me to a blog by a King’s College med student in which she reviewed the course. Her favourable review and the fact that she got 45.6 in her test encouraged me to book this course.

A big myth which has been repeatedly regurgitated at us is that the SJT is not an exam one can prepare for. Having taken the test, I can now say that this couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that the SJT doesn’t assess medical knowledge and that answering  questions comes down to good judgement, one still needs to have a good knowledge of the ethico-legal framework that doctors are expected to operate within. One also needs to be aware of the natural hierarchy of the medical team, the role of other healthcare professionals, and the dynamics of interaction between all these people.

This became very clear when I attended the Emedica SJT course. I quickly realized that there is a lot more to the exam than just “using common sense” and taking the questions at face value. When I left the course I felt that while I was still not 100% confident of my preparation for the exam, I felt that there were less unknown unknowns, and that at least I had learnt a structured approach to answer the questions. The course lasted from 10 till 5.30 and apart from a small lunch break and 2 tiny tea breaks, it was a full day. It started with an introductory talk about the SJT, its significance, and how the score is calculated. I found this part was very interesting as it contained a lot of insider info not available anywhere else. The second part was a run-through of the ethical and legal issues one needs to be aware of as well as outlining the resources one can use to prepare. The third part, which I found the most useful, was about how to approach the questions. This part opened my eyes to things I was not aware of such as the big difference in the approaches required for the two types of questions (ranking and choose the best 3 out of 8). After the course I was a lot more comfortable with answering practice questions, and found myself able to answer question quicker and in a more confident manner while still sensibly considering all the choices and their potential risk/benefit/urgency. The last part of the course touched on general exam strategy and time management issues which was also very helpful. The course was well attended and the people I chatted with afterwards all gave good reviews. And although none of them said they were completely worry-free after the course, most said that it helped them adopt a structured approach to the different types of question and gave them good tips when it came to general exam strategy.

A few days after the course I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Emedica giving me extra revision material, in the form of practice questions as well GMC and other official material covering the important ethical and legal topics. They also offered to answer any questions I had in the last week before the test. Their practice questions were similar in length and difficulty level to the official practice questions, but I still didn’t take them as dogma, which is what I did with the official UKFPO answers to the practice questions.

The test went well overall. At the moment, I cannot predict my score since for most questions there were no clear right and wrong answers. And compared to the practice paper I would say there were more questions which weren’t very clear in terms of the most appropriate answers. Nevertheless I’m overall happy with how it went. I managed to finish all the questions about 6 minutes before the end of the exam which gave me enough time to go over the answer sheet again to make sure that I didn’t forget to fill in my answer for any questions.  This was also reassuring for me as it meant I was able to consider all the questions without having to guess or rush though any of them, meaning I gave each and every single one of them a fair shot. My understanding is that most people who have done poorly in the SJT in previous years were those who didn’t finish all the questions in time or who made major mistake such as not transcribing the answers to the answer sheet in time. Hopefully this will mean that I won’t get a score less than 2 standard deviations from the average (i.e not less than mid-30s) which would guarantee me at least my second choice foundation school. And if all goes well and I haven’t messed up my rankings for a big chunk of the questions, I should be looking at a 40+ which would – based on previous yearly figures – be enough to get me into my first choice foundation school. Update – this student actually scored 41.5 SJT points, and accepted an academic rotation – however this score would have got him a spot in his 1st choice rotation!

The Emedica Foundation SJT preparation course has been running since the first year the SJT was used for Foundation programme entry / FPAS. It has been updated to take account of the new format questions added for 2015 entry onwards.

Foundation SJT tips from a resitter, Part 2

Foundation SJT tips from a resitter, Part 2100281534

With FPAS applications open now, the day is getting closer- the SJT, which will rank you with the rest of the UK medical students for jobs. It seems daunting, but remember that to get this far you are a sensible, intelligent person- it’s simply a matter of showing this as best you can, with my help!

As the exam comes up, I can’t stress enough that it is different- not about knowledge but about applying the right principles to make sensible decisions. It’s really not about cramming practice questions- after finding many of the books problematic I did very few. It’s about knowing the key guidance. It’s about showing that you know the GMC Duties of a Doctor and can apply them in scenarios of day-to-day hospital life.

You will need to reduce these massive documents to frameworks that are easily memorable for you. Have an idea of the kind of situations you will need to seek help in- when will you talk to an F1 colleague? When will you escalate a problem, and to who? We found it useful to have a framework “hierarchy” of who you would go to next with an unsolved problem.

It’s also worth reading over things such as DVLA guidance and ethical guidance on issues such as confidentiality and consent, so you are prepared for any of those issues that may come up.

Last year as part of my preparation for the SJT I took a course with Emedica– part of what was so helpful about it was their clear summaries of ethical principles, conscientious objections, confidentiality and other guidance that can almost be applied as “rules” to certain questions.

Remember that the test reflects “real-life” behaviour: Are you remembering to take care of yourself in your decisions, as well as projecting the image of the perfect caring Doctor?

On the flip-side, remember that the exam tests what you should do ideally: so even if you’d be too scared to phone your Registrar in real life, so you can put the ideal option.

FPAS provides a practice paper, which is the only “official” one so you might want to consider when you use it- early on to get an idea of real questions, or closer to the exam as a “mock”.

Consider how you’ll answer the questions. With 70 questions in 140 minutes, you have just 2 minutes in which to read a question, weigh up the scenario, and mark your answer down. Usually with MCQ’s I like to go through the question paper at least twice- you won’t have time here. Also if you’re one of those people who likes to write down your answers and transfer them at the end, consider if you want to risk running out of time for that! Bring several sharp HB pencils (so you don’t waste time sharpening, or worse, waiting for an invigilator to sidle along to you to bring you a new pencil), and please, a decent rubber, so we can avoid the marksheet fiasco of 2012!

I wouldn’t recommend cramming for this exam at all. You can’t learn answers as a slight variation in a question would change it completely. (None of the past paper questions came up last year, either!) Even if it’s not your usual pre-exam style, I’d recommend a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before the exam, so you’re awake and ready to reason out situations, and apply some well-needed common sense!

This article was written by a final year medical student at Kings College London medical school. She has since passed finals, got a great SJT score again, and is now a foundation doctor at her 1st choice Foundation rotation in London.
The Emedica Foundation SJT preparation course has been running since the first year the SJT was used for Foundation programme entry / FPAS. It has been updated to take account of the new format questions added for 2015 entry onwards.

Foundation SJT tips from a resitter, Part 1

Foundation SJT tips from a resitter, Part 1stockxpertcom_id563921_size2

I did fairly well in the SJT last year; ending up with a total score of 91.6, and landing myself my top-choice job in the hospitals I wanted.

Unfortunately for me I’m retaking the year due to OSCE difficulties, which includes everything that comes with it- including all logbook signups and, of course, the FPAS application system. So whilst digging out my SJT notes from last year, I realised that having gone through the whole experience (including it’s ups and downs!) I had some experience and advice that may prove useful to share.

As you probably know by now, it’s a bit of an odd exam, focusing not on knowledge but on appropriate reactions to scenarios, such as your senior Doctor being drunk (there were at least three questions on that last year, bizarrely) or handling a complaint from a patient. You answer each question by ranking five possible scenarios, from most to least appropriate. The tricky part comes when you realise you can’t justify your answers, or gain extra information, and have to go exactly with what’s in front of you!

So what’s the best way to learn for this new test?

It’s very tempting to try and learn the “correct” answers to a variety of questions, such as from working through the variety of SJT practice question books available. Personally, I didn’t rate any of these, as I found they each had their own biases. The Oxford Handbook version was clearly written by older Consultants with the idea of “don’t bother your seniors”- NOT the SJT ethos! Another book I found had questions on clinical scenarios- the test actually requires very little medical knowledge. We even found such bizarre options in question banks as “try to stab the patient with your pen”- unfortunately nothing in the exam was so clear-cut wrong or right!

I daresay the books/question banks will have improved this year (look out for anything on its second edition, I see on Amazon that the Oxford Handbook one is), but if you use them, use them with an open mind. Be willing to rethink answers that don’t seem right, and discuss with your peers. Remember that a slight change in the options could completely affect your answer in the exam.
(Also: order the books as soon as possible- they sell out fast, and last year one didn’t arrive for me until the week before the exam!)

My main strategy for revision was to try and get into the right “mind-set” of the test. The test isn’t about knowledge- it’s about thinking like a Doctor, and so I did my best to learn what the test was looking for, and familiarise myself with the principles I should be applying/would be tested on. To start with, you can do background reading about how the test was developed and what it is looking for. I went to www.isfp.org.uk for this, and specifically read through the SJT monograph which is a really good explanation of what the test is looking to measure, and how.
The UK Foundation Programme Website also provides a person specification for the SJT on their documents page.

Then I spent a lot of time reading the various GMC guidance such as Good Medical Practice (I went so far as to have a summary of this on my bedroom wall!) and Tomorrow’s Doctors. We should of course know these backwards by now, but they are very clear and thorough documents laying out everything expected of us. There are even interactive scenarios you can work through to break up the book-work: http://www.gmc-uk.org/static/media/Medical_Students/index.html and http://www.gmc-uk.org/gmpinaction/ which will help you practice all the guidance to aid recall.

Finally, I would definitely recommend going on a revision course. While my University tried to advise us on this exam, they aren’t familiar with it- but GP trainees are, having been doing SJT’s for years now. Emedica ran an intensive day course where they provided key background information, including the ethical principles, GMC guidance and day-to-day problems you may face as a junior doctor (and so on the test). They provided and confidently went through example questions; explaining the correct answers in a really sensible way that made sense. This was supplemented by a set of practice questions to go through online afterwards; which I found very useful, as I knew I could trust the examples!
The course also included a timed practice test that forced you to answer each question in a set amount of time- this is really important thing as the timing is close and indeed I know of some people whose mark dropped simply due to running out of time.

In summary:

  • Learn the background knowledge;
  • Get advice from the experts;
  • Practise putting the guidance into practice;
  • And use common sense… you’ll be fine!
This article was written by a final year medical student at Kings College London medical school. She has since passed finals, got a great SJT score again, and is now a foundation doctor at her 1st choice Foundation rotation in London.
The Emedica Foundation SJT preparation course has been running since the first year the SJT was used for Foundation programme entry / FPAS. It has been updated to take account of the new format questions added for 2015 entry onwards.

Foundation Programme Situational Judgement Test Preparation Course Launched

Foundation Programme Situational Judgement Test Preparation Course Launched

Emedica have launched an intensive half day course aimed at final year medical students from all UK medical schools. This course will help students gain a thorough understanding of the Foundation Programme entry Situational Judgement Test.

All final year medical students will sit the SJT exam as part of their Foundation Programme application for 2013 entry. The exam will be held on the 7th December 2012 and the 7th January 2013.

The course covers key theory as well as all important tips and techniques to help you boost your SJT score. We hope this will maximise your chances of getting your first choice Foundation Programme / Foundation School.

This course is aimed at final year medical students at any university applying for entry in the UK Foundation Programme 2013 – you will be sitting the SJT exam in December 2012 or January 2013.

The course covers:

Situational Judgment Tests in Foundation Programme Entry – Background, development, piloting for Foundation programme entry. How your SJT score is calculated / used. Why the SJT score is more important than your EPM in ranking.

Key Theory and Techniques for SJT exams – Key attributes and domains tested in the Foundation SJT exam. Medical ethics, confidentiality, capacity, consent,GMC Good Medical Practice. Differences in how to approach ranking SJT questions vs. selection SJT questions. Understanding how the SJT exam is marked. Key tips and techniques to boost your scores.

SJT Mini Mock Exam – 24 question mock SJT paper with the same timings per question as the real exam. This includes 16 ranking questions and 8 selection questions. Detailed answers and explanations with discussion of WHY the best responses are correct, mapped to the Foundation Programme SJT attributes / person specification.

Questions and Answers – Dedicated question and answer session on SJT questions and Foundation programme entry. 1 to 1 clinic at the end of the day if you wish to discuss anything privately.

The course will be taught by Dr Mahibur Rahman – the author of the first article on Situational Judgement Tests in medical recruitment –Tackling Situational Judgement Tests – BMJ Careers 2007. Dr Rahman is a Portfolio GP and a consultant in medical education – he is an expert in medical careers, and has taught over 15,000 delegates since 2005.

Course Programme

13.00 Registration
13.15 Welcome and Introduction
13.20 Situational Judgement Tests in Foundation Programme Entry: Overview
13.35 Tackling SJT exams: Key theory, tips and techniques
14.30 Situational Judgement Test Mini Mock Exam
15.30 Break for Refreshments
15.50 SJT Mock: Answers, explanations and feedback
17.30 Questions and Answers
17.45 Summary and Close

The course will be held on:

Saturday 3rd November 2012 – MANCHESTER

Sunday 11th November 2012 – BIRMINGHAM

Sunday 18th November 2012 – LONDON

The course costs £95 – but you can save £20 by taking advantage of the early bird discount – just book by the 30th September 2012.  You can save a further £20 each if you book with a friend – so it pays to be social!

Book your place today and boost your Situational Judgement Test scores!

Situational Judgement Test Questions in Medical Recruitment – Preparing for SJT Exams

Situational Judgement Tests in Medical RecruitmentSituational Judgement Test Questions

Dr Mahibur Rahman

Over the past few years, SJT questions have become more popular as part of medical recruitment processes.  The first medical specialty to introduce SJT questions was the GP Recruitment process – the professional dilemma paper makes up 50% of the marks from the GP Stage 2 assessment, and the use of situational judgement test questions has shown to have good correlation with performance in GP training. The National Recruitment process for GP ST Entry in the UK has been using SJT questions since 2006 (piloted), with the SJT exam scores actually contributing since 2007.

They have become increasingly popular in other parts of medicine.  SJT questions were trialled as part of the CMT recruitment process in 2009, for recruitment to Public Health Specialty Training for the past 2 years, and are now part of the recruitment process for the Australian GP Training (AGPT) programme via the GPET Stage 2 assessment.  In the future, they will also be used as part of Foundation Programme 2013 entry in the UK after a successful pilot in 2011 showed good correlation to other methods of assessment, and increased reliability compared to “white space” questions. They are also being considered for some surgical specialties.

There are two main types of SJT question used: ranking, and selection.

Ranking SJT questions

In this type of SJT question, the candidate is given a scenario that they might encounter in the job they are applying for, with a work based scenario.  This can involve an ethical dilemma, a difficult decision, issues with other team members, or issues relating to patients. Questions are written to test specific competencies essential for that job.  The candidate will be offered a set of possible responses (usually 5), and must rank the options from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best (or most effective) option, and 5 being the worst (or least effective) option. This type of question is usually marked using a keyed response mark scheme – the total marks awarded for an answer depends on how close the answer is to the “best response” or “model” answer, as determined by a panel of experts. This means that a sensible answer that is not perfect will still receive a high score.

Selection SJT questions

In this type of SJT question, the candidate is given a scenario with many more options to choose from – up to 10 options in some cases.  From these, they have to select 2 or 3 options (depending on the question) that TOGETHER make the best overall response to the scenario.  These do not need to be ranked – so a candidate might pick options A, D, and G, but would not need to rank these 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Marking for this question type depends on the specific exam. In some cases, these questions are also marked using a keyed response scheme, in others, there is one “correct” answer, with a set number of marks for each of the correct responses selected.

Most of the current examinations using situational judgement test questions tend to have more ranking SJT questions compared to selection SJT questions.

Preparing for Situational Judgement Test questions

This type of question is designed to test judgement and decision making ability, and to explore whether a candidate meets specific job related competencies.  They do NOT test knowledge in the way a clinical exam does.  So how can you improve your performance in an SJT exam? Here are a few simple tips:

Learn the competencies

Each SJT question is written to map to one or more specific competencies. If you understand which competencies are being assessed as a whole, it becomes easier to spot which ones are being tested in any given question.  This can make it easier to rank items that demonstrate the competencies higher.  The specific competencies vary depending on the specific exam – so make sure you have read the person specification for the job you are applying for.  As an example, some of the competencies being tested in the GP Stage 2 exam include team working, empathy and sensitivity, communication skills, coping with pressure, and professional integrity.

Understand the difference between the two question types

Ranking questions are asking you to compare each option with the others – they are NOT asking you for “good” or “bad” options alone.  Sometimes all 5 options may be poor, or  they may all be beneficial, you are looking for which one is comparatively better or worse than the other options.  Selection questions are NOT asking you to rank anything, just the best 3 options taken together.  This allows you to eliminate some options as they cannot work together. Once you have worked out the 3 best options that work together, you do not need to waste any time deciding which of these 3 options is better or worse than the others in your final answer.

Practice, practice, and practice to time

Because of the way situational judgement test questions are marked, you can often get a high score simply by attempting every question – so getting used to the pace of the real exam is really helpful.  If you answer 50 questions imperfectly, you will usually get a higher score than someone that answers 40 questions perfectly.  Some candidates struggle to finish in time, especially when they spend too long on a specific question trying to get the “perfect” answer.  Get used to the timing, and then try to be strict with your time management – have a sensible go at every question to maximise your score. This type of question is often new to many students and doctors – you have all sat numerous clinical exams with single best answer and extended matching questions, but SJT questions are still relatively new.  The more you practice, the more you get used to understanding, evaluating and answering sensibly in a limited amount of time.


Situational judgement tests are increasingly common in medical recruitment – from medical school entry (UKCAT), to recruitment to postgraduate training. They have been shown to be a valid and effective way to select candidates, especially when used as part of a holistic recruitment process that also takes into account knowledge and the right experience for the job. Understanding how the questions are written and marked, and practicing to improve your examination technique can help you improve your performance on the day.

Further reading:

Tackling Situational Judgement Tests – BMJ Careers – inlcudes samples of both types of SJT question

Emedica were the first company to include situational judgement test questions as part of their GP Stage 2 online revision service.  We recently launched the first dedicated situational judgement test preparation package with 115 high quality SJT questions.  This includes both types of SJT question, with detailed explanations and answers, and includes a timed 25 question mini mock SJT exam.