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Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme and changes to the 2013 application timetable

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Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme and changes to the 2013 application timetable

Published: 02/03/2012

Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme and changes to the application timetable for the Foundation Programme / Academic Foundation Programme 2013

'The Next Stage Review: A High Quality Workforce' stated that work needed to be undertaken to develop improved selection tools for recruitment to the UK Foundation Programme. As a result of this, the Department of Health in England commissioned the Medical Schools Council to lead a project group to carry out an options appraisal to determine the best approach for selection of applicants into the UK Foundation Programme and allocation to foundation schools.

The Final Report of the Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme (ISFP) Project Group recommended that selection to the Foundation Programme from 2013 onwards should be based upon:

• An invigilated Situational Judgement Test (SJT) to assess aptitude for the Foundation Programme (to replace 'white space' questions); and

• An Educational Performance Measure (EPM) to reflect educational performance at medical school up to the point of application to the Foundation Programme (with medical school deciles replacing the quartiles used previously).

The four UK health departments accepted the proposals made by the ISFP Project Group and the improved selection methods will be introduced this year for applications to the Foundation Programme and the Academic Foundation Programme commencing in August 2013.

For more information about the work of the ISFP project group, the SJT (including example SJT questions and answers), and the EPM framework visit the ISFP website:

Situational Judgement Test (SJT)
The SJT replaces the previous ‘white space’ application form questions as a measure of meeting the national person specification. The SJT is taken in exam conditions, and consists of 70 questions in 2 hours 20 minutes. It contains two question formats: rank five possible responses in order and select the three most appropriate responses.  A maximum of 50 points is available.

All applicants to the Foundation Programme commencing in August 2013, including the Academic Foundation Programme, are required to take the SJT in the UK on either:

• Friday 7 December 2012
• Monday 7 January 2013

An applicant’s UK medical school or the UK Foundation Programme Office’s (UKFPO) Eligibility Office will provide information on which date(s) is/are available and how to book a place once confirmed as eligible to apply. 

Frequently asked questions about the SJT and their answers are available on the ISFP website.

Educational Performance Measure (EPM)
The EPM is a measure of clinical and non-clinical skills, knowledge and performance up to the point of application. The EPM comprises three elements; medical school performance to date in deciles (replacing previous quartiles), for which 34-43 points are available; additional degrees, which are worth up to 5 points; and academic achievements, for which up to 2 points are available. A maximum of 50 points are available.
All applicants to the Foundation Programme, including the Academic Foundation Programme, will be awarded an EPM score.

Visit the ISFP website to view frequently asked questions about the EPM and their answers.

Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) recruitment process
The requirement for all applicants to sit the SJT in December or January as stated earlier means that AFP applications will now be submitted at the same time as Foundation Programme (FP) applications.  This still leaves sufficient time for local AFP short-listing and interviews to take place, and for AFP offers to be made before the national FP allocation is run.  See below for the key dates and timeframes for the revised process.

For AFP 2013, applicants will complete the national FP application form.  Applicants will then actively choose if they wish to apply for an Academic programme on FPAS.  Applicants wishing to apply for an AFP will be able to apply to a maximum of two Academic Units of Application  (AUoA)*.  Each AUoA will determine the supplementary information it requires and this will be collected centrally through the online Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS).

Each AUoA will determine its own interview schedule and will notify their applicants of the local process.  All interviews will be completed by the specified date.   Following interviews, each AUoA will locally determine the total score for its short-listed applicants using a combination of the applicant’s EPM score, interview score and/or application form score.  The applicants at each AUoA will then be ranked in order of their total score for the purpose of making AFP offers.

All initial offers for AFP places will be communicated to successful AFP applicants on the same day and there will be a deadline for accepting or declining offers.  Following initial offers, AUoAs will offer any unfilled places to applicants on their reserve list through a cascade process.  FPAS will be used to inform successful AFP applicants of any offers being made and all offers will have to be accepted or declined on FPAS before the stated deadline.

Any AFP applicants who are not successfully placed will be automatically included in the FP process and allocated to a UoA.

Key dates and timeframes


Date/timeframe FP/AFP 2013 application activity
16 Jul - 17 Aug 2012 Eligibility checking
Late Aug 2012 Academic programmes available to view
1 - 7 Oct 2012 Register and enrol on FPAS. All programmes available to view
8 - 19 Oct 2012 Application period for both FP and Academic FP applications
Late Oct 2012 - mid Jan 2013 Local short-listing and interviews for AFP applicants
7 Dec 2012 1st SJT date
7 Jan 2013 2nd SJT date
Late Jan 2013 AFP national offers
Early Feb 2013 AFP cascade of offers
25 Feb 2013 Primary list applicants informed of allocation to unit of application for FP.
Reserve list applicants contacted regarding the process for batch allocations
Mar - Apr 2013 On-line references collected
Early Apr 2013 Primary list applicants informed of local match to foundation programme results

Further information
Further information for applicants will be available in the FP/AFP 2013 Applicant’s Handbook which will be published in early June 2012.  The handbook will include full details of each step of the process and what applicants need to do to prepare in advance.  It will also explain how the points awarded for the SJT and the EPM, together with any additional scores, will be used when making AFP offers or allocating applicants to FP places.

*A Unit of Application (UoA) is either an individual foundation school or two or more foundation schools that have geographical alliances for the purpose of processing FP applications.  An Academic Unit of Application (AUoA) is a geographical alliance created for the purposes of Academic FP selection and recruitment.

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