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.
For 2018/19, there are two SJT dates: 7th December 2018, and 7th January 2019.
What does the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) assess?
We speak to Dr. Max Roberts about the Situational Judgement Test Medicine in the video below.
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.
What’s the Structure of the Situational Judgement Test Medicine (SJT)?
The SJT is an invigilated exam lasting 140 minutes, designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of an F1 doctor’s role. It’s recommended that you spend two minutes per question.
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.
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.
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.
The SJT is thus split into two parts:
Two-thirds of the questions
In Part One there are four different formats of lead-ins you may be asked:
1. Rank in order the appropriateness of the following actions in response to this situation (1= Most appropriate; 5= Least appropriate)
2. Rank the order in which the following tasks should be undertaken (1= Do first; 5= Do last)
3. Rank in order the importance of the following considerations in the management of this situation (1= Most important; 5= Least important)
4. Rank in order the extent to which you agree with the following statements in this situation (1= Most agree with; 5= Least agree with)
One-third of the questions
In Part Two there are two different question formats:
1. Choose the three most appropriate actions to take in this situation.
2. Choose the three most important considerations to consider in the management of this situation
How is the Situational Judgement Test Medicine (SJT) scored?
Questions require candidates to indicate how they think an F1 doctor should respond to various scenarios, for a maximum of 20 marks for ranking questions, and 12 for the MCQs.
These marks are then scaled to match the education performance measure scale. Both the SJT score and the overall application result are then made available on Oriel.
The candidate’s raw score is reviewed by subject matter experts, or SMEs, and evaluated against a set of ‘correct’ answers. Due to the focus on a candidate’s judgement, there is a wide range of possible responses – however, the SMEs will reach a consensus as to their preferences, and this will effectively become the perfect set of answers. This ensures that the scoring is standardised, and candidates’ results are easily compared.
The scoring system is not absolute, however, and candidates are able to earn points for ‘incorrect’ answers – or those deviating from the perfect answers decided by the SMEs. An example of the system is as follows:
For a question in the ranking section of the SJT, the best order for the answers is decided as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5;
This means that answer 1 is also the first in order of preference;
If there is a maximum of four possible points for placing number 1 as first in order of preference, then the candidate gets four points for that answer;
If the candidate places number 1 as second in order of preference, they receive, for example, three points – rather than none;
This then decreases to a minimum of zero for the most extreme answers – where 1 and 5 are in reverse.
Using this model, the ‘perfect’ answer of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 would receive 20 points – four each for the five correct placements, but the worst possible answer – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – would still receive eight points. This is because number 3 is still in its ‘perfect’ position, and 4 and 2 are two places out – earning two points apiece. Only 1 and 5 earn zero points. There is therefore no negative marking on the SJT, and no reason to not answer every question. Even if the candidate is unsure as to what to do with many of the responses they are presented with, most will be able to identify at least one process they value as important, or a course of action they would prioritise.
When should I sit the Situational Judgement Test Medicine (SJT)?
For 2018/19, there are two SJT dates: 7th December 2018, and 7th January 2019.
What does the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) look for in potential F1 doctors?
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
is assertive when appropriate.
Booking the Foundation Programme SJT
The medical school or the UKFPO’s eligibility office provides details about dates for the Situational Judgement Test Medicine, and how to book a place, and provide a printable practice paper. The UKFPO does not endorse any commercial preparation resources. The practice paper may be found here.