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12th June 2021
It’s essential you score above Band 3 in situational judgement, as that’s the cut-off for many UCAT unis. These situational judgement tips will help you do just that.

Read Good Medical Practice

One of the best situational judgement tips is to make sure you understand what this subtest is looking for, which you can do by reading the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guide.

You can think of this document as a literal blueprint for the situational judgement section. Many of the principles and themes of the situational judgement test are derived from this document. If you do not have time for the whole document, at least read the first page on Duties of a Doctor.

Remember The Main Themes

When you answer situational judgement questions, you need to make sure you pick answers that relate to the key traits of a good Doctor, which includes honesty and integrity, safety, dealing with pressure, and team-working.

Don’t Think About What You Would Do

The key for SJT is that you shouldn’t choose the answer that closely matches what you would personally do. You need to think about the qualities of a good Doctor and choose the answer that best matches that.

Understand What The Answers Mean

You have to have a clear understanding of what the answers mean, in order to get the right answer.

SJT answers defined:

  • A very appropriate thing to do means that it will address at least one aspect of the situation (but maybe not all of them)
  • Appropriate, but not ideal means it could be done but wouldn’t be the most ideal solution
  • Inappropriate, but not awful means it shouldn’t really be done, but it wouldn’t be awful
  • A very inappropriate thing to do means that it should definitely not be done and would make the situation worse
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Rate The Response, Not The Scenario

Many situational judgement scenarios portray your actions as incorrect or problematic. Then when it comes to the response, your selection of the answer can be clouded by the actions of the scenario. It is important you focus on how appropriate or important the response to the scenario is, rather than the scenario itself. The question will really test how well you respond when something has gone wrong.

For example, the scenario could have said that as a Doctor, you could have given the wrong medication to a patient. However, the given response may include apologising to the patient for making the mistake. Although the scenario itself was negative, this response demonstrates honesty and integrity (one of the key themes as mentioned above) and so is very positive.

Be Aware Of Your Stated Role

Most of the time, the scenario will highlight what your role is: you could be a school pupil, a medical student or even a Doctor. This is not just the scenario spouting text to fill up space. It is likely that one of the responses you need to judge is related to how you act within your role.

An example scenario states that a patient has asked you if they are likely to get better from their illness. The response clearly says that you confirm this to the patient. No Doctor would shirk away from telling a patient this great news. But, if the scenario states that you are a work experience student, then clearly you are not in any position to tell the patient anything about their health, as you are not qualified. If the question asked what the appropriateness of this response would be, the correct answer would be ‘a very inappropriate thing to do’.

Don’t Assume It’s The Only Action Taken

When judging the appropriateness of a situation, do not compare an action to other possibilities. You are not being asked if this is the most appropriate action to take, only if it is an appropriate one that would be taken alongside others. You may think, for instance, that in a certain scenario doing an immediate action to preserve patient safety is the most important, but a long term solution may also be an appropriate action to take.

The questions, therefore, exist both in isolation (you will not be aware of many parts of the situation you would know about in reality) but also in context, where it is assumed that this will not be the only action taken.

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Use Your Instinct

Try not to get too caught up in what the ‘right’ answer for any question is. Situational judgement questions are really easy to overthink if you mull on them for too long, because you could always make an argument that something is more or less appropriate based on other factors.

Take the scenario you’re given and go with what you know to be true based on it. Remember that you get half marks for being on the right ‘side’ (appropriate/inappropriate) so even if you are not sure about how good of a choice it is you should be able to work out whether it is generally appropriate or not.

If you have time remaining you might have to resist the urge to go over these Situational Judgement questions again and again – which could be a shame if your attention is better used elsewhere.

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