6 Top Tips for Situational Judgement Tests

Dental Core Training interviews should be coming up shortly! So here is some last minute tips for, in my opinion, the hardest part of the assessment.... the SJT!

What are Situational Judgement Tests?

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) were first introduced in medicine as a way of objectively assessing candidates outside of clinical expertise. They are not designed to test a clinician's clinical knowledge, but instead to test:

  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Prioritisation skills
  • Putting patient's best interests first
This style of assessment is becoming increasingly popular in medical recruitment. It is used to assess candidates in dentistry for foundation training, dental core training and some speciality training recruitment. So if you are looking to go further in postgraduate dental training, it should be a style of assessment you should get used to!

For DFT training, they currently make up 50% of your interview score, for DCT they make up 25%

How Are They Marked?

There are 2 types of questions in SJTs:

  1. Ranking-based: you are presented with 5 different answers and you need to rank them in order of appropriateness. 20 marks are available
  2. Best of 3: you are presented with 8 different answers and you need to pick the 3 most appropriate. 12 marks are available, 4 for each correct answer you choose. 

For the ranking-based questions, you get marks for getting the answers as close to the correct order as possible, as explained in the table below.

Scores awarded if the correct answer was in the order ABCDE

As you can see, you would lose the most marks if you get the bottom and the top answers the wrong way round. 

Top Tips

  1. Focus on the top and bottom answers - get these the wrong way round and you will lose the most marks. If you get answers in the middle slightly the wrong way, you will only close 2-4 marks out of 20! 
  2. Only use the information that is in the question - every word in an SJT in there for a reason, learn to read scenarios to pick out the most useful words or wordings e.g. 'urgent', 'stable'
  3. Do not make assumptions - while the information they give you in a SJT is limited, there is plenty of information that isn't in there! Think laterally and don't make assumptions about what the question is asking
  4. Think about the consequences - think about what the consequences your actions will be on yourself, your team and your patients
  5. Don't second guess yourself - answer the question then move on. Overthinking answers will just confuse you!
  6. Think of how the answers fit together - for best of 3, it usually asks when they are considered together. The 3 answers you pick need to work well together, not repeat or contradict each other

And remember, more practice doesn't necessarily make perfect! You can't revise for this part of the assessment, just remain calm and work out a strategy that you can use in a time-efficient way. And GOOD LUCK!

If you're interested in preparing one-on-one for SJTs, I am offering limited spots for personal coaching. See here for more information. 

Do you have any questions about dental core training or the assessment? Let me know in the comments below. 

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