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Educ Prim Care. 2018 May 8:1-7. doi: 10.1080/14739879.2018.1467737. [Epub ahead of print]

Has there been a change in the knowledge of GP registrars between 2011 and 2016 as measured by performance on common items in the Applied Knowledge Test?

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a East Cliff Practice , Ramsgate , UK.
b Centre for Professional Practice (Room M3-22) , University of Kent , Kent , UK.
c Stonehaven Medical Practice , Stonehaven , UK.
d Primary and Prehospital Health Care, Community and Health Research Unit, Brayford Campus , University of Lincoln , Lincoln , UK.


The aim of this study was to assess whether the absolute standard of candidates sitting the MRCGP Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) between 2011 and 2016 had changed. It is a descriptive study comparing the performance on marker questions of a reference group of UK graduates taking the AKT for the first time between 2011 and 2016. Using aggregated examination data, the performance of individual 'marker' questions was compared using Pearson's chi-squared tests and trend-line analysis. Binary logistic regression was used to analyse changes in performance over the study period. Changes in performance of individual marker questions using Pearson's chi-squared test showed statistically significant differences in 32 of the 49 questions included in the study. Trend line analysis showed a positive trend in 29 questions and a negative trend in the remaining 23. The magnitude of change was small. Logistic regression did not demonstrate any evidence for a change in the performance of the question set over the study period. However, candidates were more likely to get items on administration wrong compared with clinical medicine or research. There was no evidence of a change in performance of the question set as a whole.


Applied Knowledge Test; Medical education; assessment; multiple choice test; standard

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