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J Educ Health Promot. 2013 Sep 30;2:53. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.119040. eCollection 2013.

Objective structured practical examination as a tool for the formative assessment of practical skills of undergraduate students in pharmacology.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Smt. NHL Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.



Assessment for practical skills in medical education needs improvement from subjective methods to objective ones. An Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE) has been considered as one such method. This study is an attempt to evaluate the feasibility of using OSPE as a tool for the formative assessment of undergraduate medical education in pharmacology.


Students of second year MBBS, at the end of the first term, were assessed by both the conventional practical examination and the Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE). A five-station OSPE was conducted one week after the conventional examination. The scores obtained in both were compared and a Bland Altman plot was also used for comparison of the two methods. Perceptions of students regarding the new method were obtained using a questionnaire.


There was no significant difference in the mean scores between the two methods (P = 0.44) using the unpaired t test. The Bland Altman plot comparing the CPE (conventional practical examination) with the OSPE showed that 96% of the differences in the scores between OSPE and CPE were within the acceptable limit of 1.96 SD. Regarding the students' perceptions of OSPE compared to CPE, 73% responded that OSPE could partially or completely replace CPE. OSPE was judged as an objective and unbiased test as compared to CPE, by 66.4% of the students.


Use of OSPE is feasible for formative assessment in the undergraduate pharmacology curriculum.


Assessment tool; feasibility; internal evaluation; objectivity

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