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June 24, 2020

Answering Your FAQs About the Pilot AAMC Situational Judgment Test (SJT)

It was recently announced that two medical schools - University of California Davis School of Medicine and University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities - will be participating in the AAMC’s pilot Situational Judgment Test (SJT).

If you’re applying to either or both of these schools, you probably have a lot of questions: Is the pilot test mandatory? Will the test affect my admissions chances? What kinds of questions will be asked?

We’re here to help get those questions answered!

Answering Your FAQs About the Pilot AAMC Situational Judgment (SJT)

WHAT IS THE AAMC SITUATIONAL JUDGMENT TEST (SJT)?

The AAMC SJT is a standardized test that presents a series of hypothetical scenarios students may encounter in medical school and asks examinees to evaluate the effectiveness of a series of behavioral responses to each scenario.

If you’re the comprehensive type, feel free to read this sizable PDF from the AAMC.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT OF THE AAMC SJT?

The AAMC SJT is a 75-minute test. The total time, including the check-in and check-out, is approximately 90 minutes.

Each scenario includes a short paragraph describing a situation and a range of options for how you could respond. Each scenario will have between four and eight possible responses. You will be asked to rate the effectiveness of each response on a four-point scale: 1 = Very Ineffective 2 = Ineffective 3 = Effective 4 = Very Effective.

The test is delivered online using your own computer in a location of your choice, as long as your equipment and work space meet the AAMC’s technical and security requirements. Your internet access, applications and software, and files on your computer will be disabled while taking the AAMC SJT.

You will have the choice to void your test at the end, but you won’t be able to retake it multiple times.

HOW CAN CANDIDATES PRACTICE USING THE ACTUAL AAMC SJT FUNCTIONALITY AND FEATURES?

A tutorial will be available beginning July 1, 2020 when registration for the test opens. You will use your AAMC username and password to log in to the test delivery platform (which you also will use to schedule a test appointment). There, you will have unlimited opportunities to view the tutorial to familiarize yourself before your test appointment.

WHAT SKILLS OR QUALITIES ARE BEING ASSESSED BY THE AAMC SJT?

Responses provide insight into candidates’ knowledge of effective and ineffective behaviors across eight core competencies: Service Orientation, Social Skills, Cultural Competence, Teamwork, Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others, Reliability and Dependability, Resilience and Adaptability, and Capacity for Improvement.

Image borrowed from the AAMC.

WHICH SCHOOLS ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE AAMC SJT PILOT?

For the 2020-2021 cycle, the University of California Davis School of Medicine and University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities will be participating in the pilot.

WHEN WILL APPLICANTS TAKE THE AAMC SJT?

The AAMC SJT will be available in September 2020. For this application cycle, the AAMC SJT will be free and administered online using remote proctoring.

The test will be offered in two testing windows across six dates. Appointments will be available throughout each test day beginning at 8 a.m. local time:

For September 1, 2, and 3, registration opens on July 1 and closes on August 7.

For September 8, 9, and 10, registration opens on July 1 and closes on August 14.

SHOULD CANDIDATES TAKE THE AAMC SJT IF THEY’RE NOT SURE WHERE THEY’RE GOING TO APPLY?

You may take the AAMC SJT before you submit your AMCAS application. However, on test day, you will be required to select one or both participating schools to receive your scores. You may not send official score reports to any other schools this year.

HOW DOES REMOTE PROCTORING WORK?

A proctor will log into the test session, communicate with you, and monitor your test through your computer’s video camera and microphone.

The proctor will check you in and then disappear from your view so as not to distract you while taking the test. You will continue to be in the proctor’s view, and you will be able to contact the proctor at any time if you need assistance.  

Additionally, if at any time the proctor has reason to believe you are using prohibited items or engaging in prohibited behaviors, your proctor may interrupt to request clarification of your activity, and if necessary, terminate your test.

IS THE PILOT AAMC SJT MANDATORY FOR APPLICANTS?

No, but both schools are strongly encouraging applicants to participate.

WHY ARE SCHOOLS USING IT INSTEAD OF THE CASPER?

According to the UC Davis’s website, they “felt the AAMC SJT was a good fit for our holistic process because it was designed to measure pre-professional competencies that are critical for success at the UCDSOM, and the AAMC has conducted research to establish the psychometric properties and validity of the AAMC SJT.”

In other words, the AAMC has seen the success of the CASPer and wants some of the market share in the realm of SJTs.

Although, it is important to note that the AAMC SJT positions you in the role of a medical student, whereas the CASPer only includes non-medical scenarios.

If you’re curious (or a bit deranged), you can read about the AAMC’s SJT research.

HOW WILL THE SCHOOLS USE THE AAMC SJT SCORES?

Both schools’ websites explain that “if scores are ultimately shown to enhance our holistic process, we may consider them as one part of our admissions decisions.”

WILL IT NEGATIVELY AFFECT A CANDIDATE’S APPLICATION IF THEY DON’T TAKE THE AAMC SJT?

No, applicants are not required to take the AAMC SJT. Your application will still be considered complete even if you do not have an AAMC SJT score.

While the admissions committee may see that you did not take the AAMC SJT, they will be instructed to disregard missing AAMC SJT scores.

However, by not taking the AAMC SJT, “you may be missing an opportunity to display your knowledge of important competencies, such as teamwork, service orientation, and cultural competence.”

IF CANDIDATES ALREADY GOT INVITED TO COMPLETE A SECONDARY OR AN INTERVIEW, SHOULD THEY STILL TAKE THE AAMC SJT?

Yes, these applicants are strongly encouraged to take the AAMC SJT.

IF CANDIDATES WERE REJECTED FROM THE SCHOOLS, WILL TAKING THE SJT CAUSE THE SCHOOLS TO RECONSIDER THEIR APPLICATIONS?

Nope, sorry.

WILL CANDIDATES HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR AAMC SJT SCORES, AND WILL THERE BE AN INTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS?

Yes, AAMC SJT scores for all 2020 test dates will be released to examinees on October 14, 2020. A percentile rank will also be reported with each total score.

WHEN WILL THE SCHOOLS RECEIVE THE AAMC SJT SCORES?

AAMC SJT scores will be released to the schools on October 14, 2020.

WILL OTHER SCHOOLS, NOT PART OF THE PILOT, HAVE ACCESS TO AAMC SJT SCORES?

Schools not part of the pilot will not have access to your AAMC SJT scores for the AMCAS 2021 admissions cycle.

However, the AAMC will retain your AAMC SJT score report indefinitely. If you reenter the medical school application process in a future application year, the AAMC will provide your AAMC SJT score report to any program to which you apply that accepts or requires the AAMC SJT as part of their application process.

WILL THE AAMC SJT BE OFFERED IN 2021?

Test dates for 2021 are yet to be determined.

If you are submitting your application for the AMCAS 2021 cycle to University of California Davis School of Medicine or University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities campus, and you want to submit an AAMC SJT score, you must take the AAMC SJT in September 2020.

HOW SHOULD CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR THE AAMC SJT?

A partial sample test is available for you to become familiar with the types of questions on the test.

AAMC claims that a full-length practice test is coming by August 1, 2020.

Do you feel ready for the AAMC SJT? Have any questions that we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally.

Good luck!

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