Intended for healthcare professionals

Personal Views

The structured exam has taken over

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 07 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1329
  1. Roy Meadow, professor of paediatrics and child health, Leeds

    This summer I was an examiner in the medical students' MB examination for the last and 107th time (75% of the examinations have been on home ground in Leeds). In recent years our paediatric examination has been an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and, therefore, I was not sorry that it was my final appearance.

    I am sure I am not the only examiner who hates it

    Much has been written about the fairness of newer examination techniques; the standardised nature of the OSCE; its preference by students; and, once it is established, also by the organising staff. But I have not seen surveys of the opinions of examiners and teachers, most of whom have had experience of previous versions of clinical examinations.

    In the 1960s and 1970s there was little continuous assessment, and few preliminary tests until the final big bang examination at the end of the clinical course when the students, in the course of a week, had clinical examinations in almost everything—medicine, surgery, obstetrics, paediatrics, psychiatry, etc. For all students it was a considerable ordeal, and for some …

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