Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 4, April 2009

Accurately assessing candidates for general practice

Russell Jones
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Specialist medical examinations, such as those within general practice, are essential for identifying candidates who are able to progress to independent specialist practice. The rationale for their use is that underlying general practice related knowledge, ability, and skill of a candidate can be determined through the use of a valid, reliable, fair, practical and generalisable examination.
This article discusses a method for viewing all aspects of an examination for the purpose of minimising or eliminating error.
An assumption is made that performance on the examination is a predictor of the underlying ability of a candidate. Although examinations are invaluable tools, they are only indicators of candidate competence or candidate mastery. Decision making based on examination results may be adversely affected if error enters examination content, processes and procedures. This is particularly the case for candidates whose examination scores fall around the pass mark. Potential strategies for minimising the ‘band of uncertainty’ for these candidates in The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Fellowship examination are discussed.

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