Student assessment is based on the “Tomorrows’ Doctors” learning outcomes and the core clinical problems.  The core curriculum, Student Selected Components (SSCs) and electives are all assessed in relation to the outcomes. As far as possible, assessment is integrated like the teaching and learning, and oriented towards clinical relevance rather than theoretical aspects.

Assessment informs staff and students, with the aim that students will be fit to practise as Foundation doctors.  A range of appropriate assessment instruments are used to enable assessment of the outcomes at the level required at each stage of the curriculum. These are selected to allow assessment of knowledge, its application, competence, performance and professionalism.

Dundee has been at the forefront of new approaches to assessment in medical education, meeting the challenges posed by an integrated, outcome-based curriculum. A range of assessment methods are used including:

  • online progress tests, allowing you to identify areas on which to focus
  • online assessments of knowledge, understanding and application
  • clinical examinations (OSCEs and Workplace-Based Assessments)
  • portfolios of learning.

These are designed to assess your mastery of the curriculum outcomes, and test skills and attitudes as well as knowledge.

Formative Assessment

You will gain experience of the summative examinations by undertaking formative assessments. During systems in practice, for example, these include the online exam and the anatomy practical exam.  Questions included in these formative assessments are representative of the style of question found in the summative examination and are done under examination conditions. You will receive feedback on your performance in these exams.

Written Assignments

You may be asked to complete a reflective essay, case report or other piece of written work as  part of either formative or summative assessment. This assessment method is particularly likely to be used in SSCs or clinical attachments and may form a component of your portfolio.

Verbal reports and presentations

You may be assessed either formatively or summatively on a verbal report or presentation, for example of a patient case or research findings. As with written assignments this method frequently forms part of assessment of SSCs or clinical attachments.

Online examinations

Online examinations include Multiple Choice Questions, Extended Matching Item (EMI) questions, Numerical Questions and Drag and Drop Graphical Questions.

EMI questions generally consist of a lead-in question setting the topic (e.g. management of stroke patients), followed by series of clinical scenarios (each with a single best answer) and a range of answers to select from (in this case a selection of management options). This type of assesses not only knowledge but its application.

Cumulative Assessment Programme (CAP)

The Cumulative Assessment Programme (CAP) is an online formative test for medical students which is performed annually, a few months prior to summative examinations.  The test is compulsory and uses multiple choice and extended matching questions.

You will receive results with feedback on answers, marks relative to your peers, systems of teaching and curriculum outcomes.  If you have performed poorly a meeting with a pastoral tutor can be arranged to discuss and identify potential learning difficulties and support requirements.

The results are also used to allow the medical school to plan appropriate revision teaching depending on individual cohorts of students’ needs.  In addition they allow phase conveners to assess quality of  teaching in their teaching block and so initiate improvement in teaching in any future redesign of course curriculum.


The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is used each year to measure competence in skills such as communication, clinical examination, practical procedures / prescribing, clinical reasoning and interpretation of results.   Students rotate through a series of stations at which they are required to undertake a variety of tasks. The OSCE in the early years consists of shorter task-based stations, and in the later years of longer, integrated stations.


A portfolio is a collection of work that can be used to demonstrate progress and learning.  Whilst the written and practical exams can measure what the student knows, these tools do not easily assess professional behaviours. The Dundee portfolio enables assessment of higher order skills such as self- reflection, critical thinking and clinical reasoning.  By accumulating evidence of experiences and accomplishments a final assessment of students’ strengths and weaknesses, across all competences, can be made.

Workplace-based Assessment  (WBA) Tools

With the growing use of the portfolio as a summative assessment, there is a need for more objective ways to measure student performance in clinical placements. A range of tools have been developed for use in postgraduate medical education and these are now being incorporated into undergraduate assessment. They include Direct Observation of Procedural Skills (DOPS; a measure of competence in practical procedures), mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise (mini-CEX; can be used for observations of  patient interactions) and case-based discussions (CBD; used to assess clinical reasoning and judgement). Many of these tools are used in year 4 and 5 clinical attachments.

Ward Simulation Exercise

The Ward Simulation Exercise is an innovative assessment undertaken in the Dow Simulation Suite. Students complete this during Preparation for Practice (PfP) block. Students adopt the role of a Foundation doctor in a ward with simulated patients and nursing staff in order to experience coping in this situation, and are given feedback on their performance. The exercise is recorded and students are able to view this in order to reflect on their performance