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The SJT Part 1: A Short Introduction

What is the SJT?

The Situational Judgement Test is a compulsory exam for those wishing to enter the UK Foundation Programme of medical training. Unlike your medical school exams, the SJT is not a test of clinical knowledge or skill, but an employment test. It aims to test your aptitude for a position as a junior doctor in other skill domains, particularly those outlined in the GMC’s guidelines for professional behaviour ‘Good Medical Practice’ and the Person Specification for Foundation Doctors.

Who sits it?

Every final year medical student in the UK, and anyone who has studied overseas who wishes to enter the UK Foundation Programme. This amounts to roughly 7500-8000 applicants sitting the test each year.

When is it sat?

This year, there are two dates on which the SJT may be sat:

  1. Friday 6th December 2019

  2. Monday 6th January 2020

Usually your medical school will choose one of these dates for you.

Where do I sit the exam?

The SJT is normally sat in external venues close to your university.

How do I register?

UK medical students should be registered through their medical school. For overseas applicants, registration is through the UK Foundation Programme Eligibility Office.

What does the exam involve?

The exam is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and requires you to answer 70 questions, answered on paper.

The exam will contain two types of question:

1. Ranking questions: these require you to rank five possible answers in order of appropriateness. Within ranking questions, there are four types of instructions for ranking answers:

  1. Ranking appropriateness of actions: 1 = most appropriate, 5 = least appropriate

  2. Ranking appropriateness of statements: 1 = the statement you most agree with, 5 = the statement you least agree with

  3. Ranking importance of considerations: 1 = most important, 5 = least important

  4. Ranking order of actions: 1 = the action you would take first, 5 = the action you would take last

For ranking questions, a maximum of 20 points can be scored, with up to four points available for each response. You also score points for ‘near misses’ – for instance, if an answer is supposed to be ranked first, and you rank it second, you will score 3 out of the possible four points. You can’t put down any answers as being of equal appropriateness; you must rank them all.

2. Selection questions: these require you to select the three most appropriate responses from a possible eight.

A maximum of 12 marks are available for selection questions, with each correct answer scoring 4 points. There is no negative marking.

Check out the UKFP website FAQs for more details on how the SJT is marked.

When will I find out my result?

Results of the SJT will be available on Oriel (the NHS employment platform) when the first round of programme allocations is released. In 2020, this is due to be on Thursday 2nd April.

What does my result mean?

Your SJT result will be expressed as a score between 0 and 50, to three decimal places. Most people score between 36 and 44.

Your SJT result makes up half of your final application score. The other half is made up of your Educational Performance Measure (EMP), which reflects your academic performance in your medical degree. Your EPM is made up of your decile ranking at medical school (which is calculated by individual medical schools, using varying systems), points from any other degrees you may have, and points for publications up to a maximum of two.

Whilst you cannot technically ‘fail’ the SJT, if you score 3.5 deciles below the mean or less, you will be invited for an interview to discuss the progress of your application for the UK Foundation Programme. This only happens to a tiny number of applicants every year.

How can Medics.Academy help me ace my SJT?

Medics.Academy is dedicated to improving healthcare education. Helping the coming generation of doctors to succeed is a big part of our vision.

One of the original HLA Scholars and brilliant clinician, Dr George Millar, created a course for the Medics.Academy platform to help you prepare for the SJT. George aced the SJT when he sat it, and he can help you do the same.

Join our online final-year study group to gain access to a discount to The Situational Judgement Test, and three other courses to help you succeed in your final year.


About the Author

Anna Harvey is a final year medical student and Medics.Academy Fellow. She is interested in women’s health, education and journalism. You can find her tweeting about writing, music and running at @a_c_harvey

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