2023 SJT Survey Reveals Insights into Medical School Applicants’ Performances on Situational Judgment Assessments

The Health Professional Student Association (HPSA) unveiled a comprehensive report of the experiences and perspectives of high-achieving aspiring health professionals on their encounters with assessment tools shaping U.S. medical school admissions. The HPSA/Student Doctor Network Situational Judgment Test (SJT) Experience Survey captured the voices of 147 individuals, including those from varied racial backgrounds and socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants with compelling lived experiences. 

2023 SJT Survey Demographics and Background

  • ▪ Gender and Ethnic Representation: More females participated than males or gender non-conforming individuals. Over half identified as White/Caucasian, with 15% representing historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
  • ▪ Challenges Faced: Many self-identified as first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and faced adversity due to various familial, socioeconomic, or personal challenges.

Pre-Professional Profiles

  • ▪ High GPA: Most respondents had high undergraduate and graduate GPAs sufficient to enter a desired health professional program. 
  • ▪ Career Aspirations: While diverse health professional careers were represented, most aspired to be physicians (MD/DO).
  • ▪ Preparation for SJTs: Respondents primarily relied on online forums, testing websites, and webinars to prepare.

SJT Experiences

  • ▪ Casper: Most survey respondents performed in the 4th (highest) quartile but had diverse sentiments toward programs requiring the test.
  • ▪ AAMC PREview: While scores were generally high, respondents expressed mixed reactions about interactions with proctors.
  • ▪ Diverse Opinions: A spectrum of opinions – from appreciation to significant skepticism – emerged regarding the usefulness, subjectivity, biases, and predictive value of SJTs.

Download the 2023 SJT Survey Executive Summary

Curious what students are experiencing when taking situational judgment tests like Casper and PREview? Learn more in our Executive Summary.

Criticisms Revolve Around

  • ▪ Subjectivity and lack of transparency, especially about grading consistency and unclear scoring criteria.
  • ▪ Participants highlighted their ability to frame answers to exam expectations instead of disclosing more personally authentic opinions or actions.
  • ▪ Worries about biases favoring certain cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • ▪ Doubts about the relevance and realism of scenarios to decision-making in academic or professional settings.

Implications for Medical School Admissions

These findings highlight critical considerations about the fairness, subjectivity, and overall efficacy of SJTs in evaluating aspiring medical professionals for admission. These concerns may also extend to applicants to other graduate programs using SJTs for student admissions.

About the Survey

The 2023 HPSA/SDN Situational Judgment Test Experience Survey aims to explore applicants’ encounters with SJTs, reflecting diverse perspectives in the medical school admissions process.

For media inquiries and further information, contact: Emil Chuck, Director of Advising Services ([email protected])

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