Examination research reports

The College is committed to carrying out exam related research and publish the findings of all qualitative and quantitative research undertaken. Much of the recent research undertaken by the College, aims to explore the findings and answer important questions in regard to differential attainment in examinations

Differential attainment is a term used to describe the variations in levels of educational achievement that occur between different demographic groups undertaking the same assessment. This is not a recent phenomenon and any large-scale assessment system inevitably produces differential attainment. This cannot be attributed to a single identifiable cause, but results from a combination of factors.

Whilst not outliers in respect of differential attainment, takes the issue very seriously.  A number of research projects are in place and we aim to publish findings and answer important questions in regard to differential performance in examinations.  The RCoA reported on the issue of differential attainment in the FRCA via an article in the Bulletin 92 | July 2015, the article written by Dr Bennan and Dr Lumb presented data showing that in common with other speciality exams, some candidate groups perform better than others. The effects of gender, ethnicity, training post and primary medical qualification (PMQ) all affect outcomes. More recently, the College has undertaken two projects which aims to better inform both candidates and trainers on how to optimally prepare for the FRCA:

1. Differential attainment in curricular components.  This project looked at how candidate groups performed in the curricular units tested in Primary and Final FRCA. All questions from four sittings of the oral exams were mapped to the training curriculum then each candidate's score analysed (>20000 results per exam), see full report

2. Candidate survey of exam preparation.  In three Primary and two Final exams candidates were asked to complete a questionnaire about how they had prepared for the oral examinations to identify if there was any correlation to exam performance and how candidates prepared for exams. The questions were developed with the college trainee committee, given to candidates after their exam but before the results were known, and then the responses matched to their overall result for that exam sitting, see full report.