Diagnostic testing of first year pharmacy students: A tool for targeted student support

Authors

  • Shahireh Sharif School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
  • Larry A. Gifford School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
  • Gareth A. Morris School of Chemistry, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
  • Jill Barber School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Keywords:

Attendance, English support, diagnostic testing, pharmacy students

Abstract

Since 1997, incoming students to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Manchester have been required to sit diagnostic tests in English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The tests have several purposes: (a) to help assign students to appropriate foundation courses, (b) to identify any areas of group or individual weakness, and (c) to determine any movement in the A-level syllabuses and standards as they affect Pharmacy students. We now show that the tests can be used to identify students at risk of failure during the MPharm course. Serious risk factors include failure to attend the tests, scores of below 90% by home students in the English test, and scores of below 60% in the Chemistry test. The year-to-year mean scores in the tests are essentially constant, although the mean A-level scores of the intake have risen. The extensive validation of the diagnostic tests by incoming students now additionally allows us to use the tests to inform the admissions process, where students’ entry qualifications are otherwise difficult to assess.

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Issue

Section

Research Article