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Spreading the word about upcoming exam changes

May 18, 2018

The Canadian Conference on Medical Education provides a chance to answer questions from educators and learners. 

The first session for the new Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I was held from April 16 to May 9, 2018, which partly coincided with the annual Canadian Conference on Medical Education that convened in Halifax (April 28 to May 1). Undergraduate Medical Education Deans, program directors and faculty members, medical students and residents, as well as educational administrators, had many questions about what to expect.

MCC’s business session was held on April 30 to a packed room, with some attendees standing. Dr. Ian Bowmer, Chair of the session and MCC’s Executive Director, outlined some of the points attendees need to know.

Dr. Ian Bowmer,
Executive Director, MCC

While the MCC has been working with medical schools on the change for the last two to three years, others may not recognize the significance of the shift. “Learning about these changes is tremendously important for my business,” commented Robert Lee, Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS), who attended the session. “It’s another example of how that national conference pays dividends.”

For learners challenging the new MCCQE Part I or MCCQE Part II (coming later this year), the watchword is preparation. The business session was a chance to guide learners and faculty to the mcc.ca website and to other resources where they can:

– Purchase practice tests (currently for Multiple-Choice Questions, but Clinical Decision-Making (CDM) questions will be available soon)
– Watch a video with tips on CDM questions
– Check FAQs to find answers
– Understand Examination Objectives
– Watch a webinar on the MCCQE Part I of MCCQE Part II
– Learn about communication and cultural competencies

Coming in 2019, candidates will be able to try a full MCCQE Part I Preparatory Examination with the answer key.

    Effects on results

    After the first administration of an exam, a new pass score must be established. This involves a standard-setting exercise, which is reviewed and approved by the Central Examination Committee before results can be released. MCC “should be able to do that by the end of June [for the MCCQE Part I],” said Yves Lafortune, Director of MCC’s Evaluation Bureau. He said MCC is working closely with the medical faculties across Canada “so that graduation will not be affected by the delay of the results.”

    The scores will also look different because they will be on a new scale. For the MCCQE Part I, the scale will range from 100 to 400 and, for the MCCQE Part II, from 50 to 250 — very different from the former scale of 50 to 950, said Dr. Liane Patsula, Associate Director of Psychometrics and Assessment Services. The full reports will also have a refreshed look. Subscores used to be based on disciplines but are now based on the new Blueprint, a matrix of four dimensions of care and four physician activities, for a total of eight subscores.

    This was vital information for CaRMS, said Mr. Lee. “I learned about the score scale changes that are coming.” He said residency program directors use the scores to filter candidates and need to know about the changes to the scale.

    Looking ahead, 2019 will see testing sessions expand internationally and be offered four times a year (and five times as of 2020). “The exams will be available in much wider windows and more frequently,” explained Dr. Claire Touchie, MCC’s Chief Medical Education Officer. While she expects that most medical schools will prepare students to sit the exam in the spring, “it might allow students who do not follow the usual path because they take leave or do an MD/PhD to challenge the exam when they feel ready.”

    Working together

    Mr. Lafortune said the conference was also a chance to thank medical schools for their help in implementing the Blueprint. “We’ve imposed on the medical schools and faculty – for example, they piloted the content for the new practice tests. We recognize that we could not have delivered this without their help.”