Background: The Script Concordance test (SCT) measures clinical reasoning in the context of uncertainty by comparing the responses of examinees and expert clinicians. It uses the level of agreement with a panel of experts to assign credit for the examinee's answers. Aim: This study describes the development and validation of a SCT for pre-clinical medical students. Methods: Faculty from two US medical schools developed SCT items in the domains of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and histology. Scoring procedures utilized data from a panel of 30 expert physicians. Validation focused on internal reliability and the ability of the SCT to distinguish between different cohorts. Results: The SCT was administered to an aggregate of 411second-year and 70 fourth-year students from both schools. Internal consistency for the 75 test items was satisfactory (Cronbach's alpha = 0.73). The SCT successfully differentiated second- from fourth-year students and both student groups from the expert panel in a one-way analysis of variance (F2,508=120.4; p<0.0001). Mean scores for students from the two schools were not significantly different (p=0.20). Conclusion: This SCT successfully differentiated pre-clinical medical students from fourth-year medical students and both cohorts of medical students from expert clinicians across different institutions and geographic areas. The SCT shows promise as an easy-to-administer measure of "problem-solving" performance in competency evaluation even in the beginning years of medical education.
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