The Situational Judgement Test, or SJT, is a multiple-choice examination for entry into the Foundation Programme, usually taken during an applicant’s final year of medical school. The SJT is managed by the UK Foundation Programme Office, and is worth a maximum of 50 points of the Foundation Programme application, with the other 50 available points earned through the Educational Performance Measure, or EPM.
The SJT is an invigilated exam lasting 140 minutes, designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of an F1 doctor’s role. Despite this, there is no requirement that the applicant have specific clinical experience, but rather the personal attributes appropriate to the role – there is an expectation that candidates will respond as F1 doctors, they don’t need to be F1 doctors.
Over two hours and 20 minutes, FP applicants will answer 70 questions – 10 of which are pilot questions. The pilot questions do not contribute to the candidate’s raw score, and are there purely for quality-control and calibration purposes. Of the 60 remaining live questions, around two-thirds will be comprised of ranking questions, with the remaining questions answered through multiple choice. For questions in part one of the SJT, candidates will rank five responses to clinical scenarios in order of preference. In the second part, candidates will again be presented with different clinical scenarios, but will have to choose three options from a possible eight.
The questions often appear to lack the information required to make a fully-informed decision. The candidate is therefore required to think as a junior doctor, and make the sort of judgement calls required during the Foundation Programme.
Situational Judgement Test Dates
For 2018/19, there are two SJT dates: 7th December 2018, and 7th January 2019.
The SJT examines the attributes drawn from the F1 person specification, and aims to assess candidate’s hypothetical ability to
demonstrate their commitment to professionalism – by dealing with confidentiality issues, inappropriate behaviour at work, and their commitment to learning and teaching;
communicate effectively – by gathering information, communicating with colleagues, negotiating for procedures, advocating on behalf of a patient, and dealing empathetically with patients and their loved ones;
cope with pressure – by dealing with mistakes, confrontation, and the need for help and supervision;
prioritise patient care – by valuing and empathising with patients’ views, concerns, and individual needs; and
work effectively in a team – by recognising the skills of other NHS staff members, the need to consider the workloads of colleagues, and by offering assistance where appropriate.
The SJT doesn’t require experience of the situations it employs, but rather an ability to apply real-world experience and personal attributes – including integrity, resilience, and flexibility – to situations that may arise in future.
The UKFPO have released a vast amount of information about the behaviours they are looking for in a potential F1 doctor. Whilst many are difficult to display in the SJT, it is important for the candidate to role play as an F1 doctor, considering the below descriptors when answering the SJT.
The UKFPO want to see evidence that a candidate
acknowledges the skills of others, utilises the most appropriate team members, and establishes their own role within a team;
supports and builds rapport with others, and offers assistance and advice whilst being mindful of others’ opinions;
can delegate and maintain a team, taking on others’ perspectives and noticing when team members need re-assigning or aid;
can give or take orders, consult with colleagues, and keep others informed of their own workload;
remains calm, employs coping mechanisms, demonstrates flexibility, and deals with uncertainty in changing and unpredicted circumstances;
demonstrates sound judgement, the ability to defuse difficult situations, and continues under stress and pressure;
is empathetic, able to maintain an appropriate distance, and consider the diverse needs of patients;
is respectful, compassionate, polite, courteous, and reassuring;
shows a genuine interest in the patient as the centre of care;
takes responsibility for work and mistakes, their own time-management, and well-being;
understands their role as a responsible, reliable, trustworthy, honest, and ethically-aware health professional;
listens and communicates appropriately – always mindful of surroundings, and non-verbal cues;
displays high standards of written communication, and uses patient-friendly language;
communicates an appropriate level of information sensitively and concisely, ensuring full command of their information;
seeks to understand their patients, and make allowances for their understanding, and need to ask questions;
gains information from colleagues, and relays only relevant information in return;
clarifies their own understanding, uses diplomacy, and keeps colleagues updated; and