Student perceptions of a sequential objective structured clinical examination

Miriam Duncumb (Corresponding Author), Jennifer Cleland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Well-designed objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) are reliable and valid, but expensive. The sequential OSCE (sOSCE) aims to balance robustness with affordability. In a sOSCE all students undertake a screening test (Day 1), with 'failing' or 'borderline' candidates sitting a second examination (Day 2). Current research has focused on psychometric properties of the sOSCE. Our aim was to examine the acceptability of the sOSCE, by identifying students' views. METHODS: Final-year students at one Scottish university completed a questionnaire after Day 1 of a sOSCE. Analysis included descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. RESULTS: A total of 107 out of 154 students (69.5%) responded. Most respondents strongly agreed/agreed that they: felt stressed about the sOSCE (98.1%); would feel like a failure if taking Day 2 (89.7%); and that Day 2 seems the same as a re-sit (78.5%). However, 61.7% agreed that fewer exams days was a positive aspect of the sOSCE. Open comments indicated feelings of increased stress, anxiety and frustration associated with the sOSCE. CONCLUSIONS: Novelty or 'fear of the unknown' regarding the sOSCE seemed to be associated with negative attitudes. Further studies are required to explore student views of the sOSCE at less pressured times in the curriculum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-249
Number of pages5
JournalThe journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the year 5 team for their contribution to question development.


  • OSCE
  • perception
  • sequential
  • student


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