Tackling differential attainment in the CASC exam

The College has been leading the way in delivering masterclasses for CASC candidates and results of the pilot project have been encouraging.

RCPsych was chosen by the General Medical Council and Health Education England to deliver a pilot project involving exam preparation for candidates from a range of deaneries across England and Wales.

The CASC masterclasses have been online over the past two years and have involved a first day of learning theory, and a second day in which delegates have been practising answering CASC exam-style questions, including taking a mock exam.

The GMC and HEE helped the College identify which candidates should be involved, by identifying deaneries and selecting trainees to take part.

After the masterclasses, which took place Nov 2020 – Nov 2022, candidates were interviewed by researchers from Edge Hill University, who are collaborating with the GMC and HEE on the project.

Many of the candidates have since gone on to take the actual exam.

Early indications are encouraging, with the attainment gap for UK based trainees from minority ethnic backgrounds appearing to be 1% rather than 11.8% from previous data.

The attainment gap for IMGs was 21%, a considerable improvement from the national gap of 59.8%.

Nico Bridge, Assistant Director of Education and Standards at the GMC, said:

“Edge Hill’s evaluation – due for publication imminently – does appear to confirm the course’s effectiveness.

“Importantly, the evaluation team were specifically tasked with examining why the course was effective.

“This is a small scale pilot, but it is hoped the findings will inspire and help other organisations to consider what they can put in place to support learners, so that the attainment gap reduces nationally.”

Professor Nandini Chakraborty, College’s National Lead for Recruitment, said:

“It was very pleasing to see how the candidates engaged with the masterclasses, and to hear that the interim results are so positive. We hope it leads to longer term funding to support tackling differential attainment as the College is committed to delivering fair and equitable exams for all candidates.”

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry