Reliability, validity and fairness in the MRCGP licensing examination

Funding body College of Social Science Research Fund & RCGP
Total funding  £18,000 to date.
  • Professor A Niroshan Siriwardena, University of Lincoln
  • Dr Zahid Asghar, University of Lincoln
  • Dr Julie Pattinson, University of Lincoln
  • Prof Graham Law, University of Lincoln
  • Dr Chris Elfes, AKT group lead, MRCGP examination
  • Carol Blow, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • Dr Jo Richardson, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • James Larcombe, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • Dr Katherine A Neden, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • Dr Amer Salim, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • Dr David Smalley, AKT group, MRCGP examination
  • Dr Meiling Denney, Chief examiner, MRCGP examnation
  • Dr Cara Featherstone, RCS, Edinburgh
  • Dr Yvonne Hurst, RCS, Edinburgh
  • University of Lincoln
  • Royal College of General Practitioners, London
  • Royal College of Surgeons, Edinbugh
Overarching aim This is a programme of research in collaboration with the MRCGP examination which seeks to investigate its reliability, validity and fairness, including the extent of differential attainment in the examination and its causes.
  • To explore the reliability and validity of the MRCGP examination.
  • To explore the extent and causes of differential attainment by sex, ethnicity and disability status of doctors taking the MRCGP examination.
  • To review the literature on differential attainment related to the MRCGP examination
Methods Systematic review, cross sectional including questionnaire and qualitative studies
  • Extent of differential attainment by sex, ethnicity, country of primary medical training, disability or other protected characteristic.
  • Determinants of differential attainment.
Outputs Peer reviewed publications, conference presentations and recommendations for the MRCGP examination and candidates.

Peer reviewed publications

  • Asghar Z, Williams N, Denney ML, Siriwardena AN (2019). Performance in candidates declaring vs not declaring dyslexia in a licensing clinical exam. Medical Education (online first).
  • Asghar ZSiriwardena AN, Elfes C, Richardson J, Larcombe J, Neden K, Salim A, Smalley D, Blow C (2018). Performance of candidates disclosing dyslexia with other candidates in a UK medical licensing examination: cross-sectional study. Postgraduate Medical Journal 94:198–203.
  • Dixon H, Blow C, Milne P, Siriwardena AN, Milne H, Elfes C (2015). Quality assurance of the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) of the MRCGP examination – an immediate post-test questionnaire evaluation of the candidates’ views. Education for Primary Care 26, 4: 223-232.
  • Dixon H,Blow C, Milne P, Siriwardena AN (2014) Reliability of non-pretested versus pretested questions in the applied knowledge test (AKT) of the MRCGP: evidence of quality assurance. Education for Primary Care, 25 (3):149-154.
  • Siriwardena AN, Irish B, Asghar Z, Milne P, Dixon H, Neden C, Richardson J, Blow C (2012) Comparing performance among male and female candidates in sex- specific clinical knowledge in the MRCGP. British Journal of General Practice, 62 (599): e446-e450.
  • Siriwardena AN, Dixon H, Blow C, Irish B, Milne P (2009) Performance and views of examiners in the Applied Knowledge Test for the nMRCGP licensing examination. British Journal of General Practice, 59 (559):110-113.
  • Dixon H, Blow C, Irish B, Milne P, Siriwardena AN (2007) Evaluation of a postgraduate examination for primary care: perceptions and performance of general practitioner trainers in the multiple choice paper of the Membership Examination of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Education for Primary Care, 18: 165-172.
Impact These studies seek to understand how the reliability and validity of the examination can be maintained or improved, why differential attainment exists and what we can do to address it.


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