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Reliability and validity of admissions tools used to select students for the health professions.

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  • 1School of Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The selection of students for the health professions is typically a very competitive multi-staged process that includes assessment of both cognitive abilities and personal qualities. The need for reliable and valid assessment measures is obvious. This review of the health professions literature examines the evidence to support the use of various selection tools. It is clear that pre-admission overall grade point average (GPA) is the best predictor of academic performance in all of the health professions; however, the relationship between pre-admission GPA and clinical performance is less clear. The Medical College Admission Test is a good predictor of performance of medical students in terms of in-course grades and licencing examination scores but a similar test does not exist in the other health professions. Controversy remains as to the value of personal interviews and written submissions as selection tools, although it is clear that training of assessors and explicit rating guidelines enhance their reliability and validity. Ongoing research is needed to find more reliable and valid ways of assessing non-cognitive characteristics of applicants.

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