Medical schools around the world have a need to select their medical students. This is done for two reasons:
- There are always more people applying to do medicine than there are medical school places
- Medical schools want to ensure that the limited student positions they have available go to individuals who will make outstanding doctors
Traditionally, high academic ability has been the major, if not the only selection criterion.
For a number of reasons a selection policy based purely on academic marks is no longer appropriate. Firstly, there is no simple correlation between the level of prior academic achievement and success in health professional courses or later practice. Secondly, selection based solely on academic criteria might unreasonably discriminate against particular groups. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the community has strongly indicated a desire for graduating health practitioners who have a demonstrated ability to communicate with and relate to their patients, in addition to having the necessary highly developed levels of skill within their field.
There has been a growing acknowledgment for some years that non-academic personal qualities are just as important and influential to the learning and practice of medicine as academic ability. Accordingly an increasing number of medical schools require applicants to complete tests that measure qualities, traits and abilities other than academic ability.