What is the SJT?
First, an important thing to consider. As you know, changes are happening to UKFPO Foundation Year applications in the years ahead, especially with the advent of the Medical Licensing Assessment and the removal of additional degrees for FPAS points. Please take the following with a pinch of salt. I am writing this based on my own experience during the 2021-22 academic year.
The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is a test that all final-year medical students must take to take up their foundation posts regardless of which programme they get. It is a computer-based psychometric test which aims to assess one’s critical thinking and behaviour in workplace settings. Key attributes tested are patient focus, commitment to professionalism, coping with pressure, effective communication and team working.
The exam lasts 2 hours 20 minutes (more for those with reasonable adjustments) and asks 70 questions in three different formats: evolving dilemmas, speech dilemmas, and multimedia elements. Some questions will be single-best answers, some will involve you ranking several options by appropriateness of action, and some will have videos to watch and subsequent questions to answer.
Is the SJT important?
When it comes to where you go for your foundation years, excluding Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP), it carries 50% weighting for your FPAS points (maximum 50 points out of 100). So this one exam is as important as your entire medical school exams, additional degrees and publications rolled into one. So, prioritise this exam in your final year! Those who are successful for the SFP only need to have a satisfactory score for the SJT; how well you score is irrelevant to taking up your post.
The SJT is only important for your foundation year applications. After that, the SJT is irrelevant for future applications such as IMT, CST, GP and Specialist Training, so although it is super important for your foundation year application, it doesn’t define your future.
How can I prepare?
Many people will say many different things about this, so it will ultimately be a matter of personal preference. For me, I like to keep things simple. The UKFPO have two practice papers which give you a select sample of questions like the questions asked in the SJT. I only used this to prepare for the SJT, and it was enough. Very kindly, the UKFPO has provided an answer sheet with the practice questions explaining why they ranked certain answers higher than others so you can see how they think and how they want people to think and answer.
I can’t speak with authority on the topic of other SJT resources. Some will swear by them, whilst others will think they are a scam. I would recommend knowing yourself whether it would help prepare for
the SJT and research the product to see if it would suit you. Again, I found the UKFPO resources sufficient so don’t feel compelled to buy resources to keep up with the competition.
Other important tips to prepare you for the exam is to create a Pearson Vue account early so that you can streamline your booking process. I received an email late September of the academic year reminding me to do this. Do it early to avoid stress and any last-minute complications.
There are classically two windows to sit your SJT: a 2-week window in early and mid-December and a 1-week window in January. I preferred the December window as I wanted to enjoy my Christmas holidays with family, and also my finals were in March, and I didn’t want finals and SJT to be too closely congested for obvious reasons.
Also, the opening booking window is tricky – they will tell you the day but not the time when you are able to book a time. Know when you best tick, whether you are a morning person or an afternoon person, whether you like doing exams at the beginning of the week or the end and what the best location for you is. Then, on the day of booking, be vigilant on a computer or laptop – NOT a mobile phone just in case – and get booking!
All this information is available on the UKFPO website, and your medical school should inform you of the process during the lead-up to the SJT.
When do I find out the results?
After sitting the exams, please relax. You won’t find out your results until the day you find out which foundation school (previously called deanery) you are allocated. This usually takes place in March. They will tell you your SJT score, total FPAS points, and where you will be going for foundation years.
The SJT is an important test, so please take it seriously and prepare well. However, it is not the be-all and end-all, so even if you scored less than average, don’t let that stop you from striving toward your career goals. It is a very small aspect of your long medical career.