Medical School Admissions: Revisiting the Veracity and Independence of Completion of an Autobiographical Screening Tool
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BACKGROUND: Some form of candidate-written autobiographical submission (ABS) is commonly used before interviews to screen candidates to medical school on the basis of their noncognitive characteristics. However, confidence in the validity of these measures has been questioned. METHOD: In 2005, applicants to McMaster University completed an off-site ABS before being interviewed and an on-site ABS at interview. Five off-site ABS questions were completed, plus eight on-site questions. On-site ABS questions were answered in variable timing conditions. ABS ratings were compared across sites and time allowed for completion. RESULTS: Off-site ABS ratings were higher than on-site ratings, and the two sets of ratings were uncorrelated with one another. On-site ABS ratings increased with increased time allowed for completion, but the reliability of the measure was unaffected by this variable. CONCLUSIONS: Confidence that candidates independently answer preinterview ABS questions is weak. To improve ABS validity, modification of the current Web-based submission format warrants consideration.
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