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The effect of an intercalated BSc on subsequent academic performance

Author(s): Mahesan Nishanthan | Crichton Siobhan | Sewell Hannah | Howell Simon

Journal: BMC Medical Education
ISSN 1472-6920

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 76;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background The choice of whether to undertake an intercalated Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree is one of the most important decisions that students must make during their time at medical school. An effect on exam performance would improve a student's academic ranking, giving them a competitive edge when applying for foundation posts. Methods Retrospective data analysis of anonymised student records. The effects of intercalating on final year exam results, Foundation Programme score, application form score (from white-space questions), quartile rank score, and success with securing Foundation School of choice were assessed using linear and ordered logistic regression models, adjusted for course type, year of graduation, graduate status and baseline (Year 1) performance. Results The study included 1158 students, with 54% choosing to do an intercalated BSc, and 9.8% opting to do so at an external institution. Doing an intercalated BSc was significantly associated with improved outcome in Year 5 exams (P = 0.004). This was irrespective of the year students chose to intercalate, with no significant difference between those that intercalated after years 2, 3 and 4 (p = 0.3096). There were also higher foundation application scores (P < 0.0001), academic quartile scores (P = 0.0003) and resultant overall foundation scores (P < 0.0001) in intercalated students. These students also had improved success with securing their first choice Foundation School (p = 0.0220). Participants who remained at the institution to intercalate in general performed better than those that opted to intercalate elsewhere. Conclusions Doing an intercalated BSc leads to an improvement in subsequent exam results and develops the skills necessary to produce a strong foundation programme application. It also leads to greater success with securing preferred Foundation School posts in students. Differences between internally- and externally-intercalating students may be due to varying course structures or greater challenge in adjusting to a new study environment.
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