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GMS Z Med Ausbild. 2014 Aug 15;31(3):Doc29. doi: 10.3205/zma000921. eCollection 2014.

Examination performances of German and international medical students in the preclinical studying-term--a descriptive study.

Author information

University Hospital Heidelberg, Department of General Internal Medicine and Psychosomatics, Centre for Psychosocial Medicine, Heidelberg, Germany.
Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Deanery of Student Affairs at the Medical Faculty, Heidelberg, Germany.
University Hospital Heidelberg, Competence Centre for Examinations in Medicine, Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Tutors of Heidelberg's Tutorial for International Medical Students (HeiTiMed), Heidelberg, Germany.
Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Institute for History and Ethics in Medicine, Heidelberg, Germany.


in English, German


Medical students with a migration background face several specific problems during their studies. International surveys show first indications that this group of students performs worse in written, oral or practical exams. However, so far, nothing is known about the performance of international students in written pre-clinical tests as well as in pre-clinical State Examinations for German-speaking countries.


A descriptive, retrospective analysis of the exam performances of medical students in the pre-clinical part of their studies was conducted at the Faculty of Medicine of Heidelberg in for the year 2012. Performance in written tests of the final exams in the second (N=276), third (N=292) and fourth semester (N=285) were compared between German students, students from EU countries and students from non-EU countries. Same comparison was drawn for the performance in the oral exam of the First State Examination in the period from 2009 - 2012 (N=1137).


German students performed significantly better than students with a non-EU migration background both in all written exams and in the oral State Examination (all p<.05). The performance of students with an EU migration background was significantly better than that of students with a non-EU background in the written exam at the end of the third and fourth semester (p<.05). Furthermore, German students completed the oral exam of the First State Examination significantly earlier than students with a non-EU migration background (<.01).


Due to its poorer performance in written and oral examinations and its simultaneously longer duration of study, the group of non-German medical students with a country of origin outside of the European Union has to be seen as a high-risk group among students with a migration background. For this group, there is an urgent need for early support to prepare for written and oral examinations.


assessment; international medical students; migration; undergraduate medical education

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