File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Doctors who failed surgeons exams to rewrite it in multiple-choice format

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 9, 2019

Share this article:

Johannesburg - An examination spectacularly failed by all would-be professional surgeons from five universities two weeks ago will now be written in a multiple-choice format.

Zach Koto, president of the council of surgeons at the Colleges of Medicine of SA (CMSA), announced at a media briefing held in Joburg on Tuesday that the multiple-choice format will be used, starting from next year.

A row erupted last week after it emerged that all candidates from Wits University, University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, Walter Sisulu University and University of the Free State had failed the exam.

Some university officials questioned why only candidates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and Stellenbosch University managed to pass.

Koto said the multiple choice was a principle implemented nationally and internationally.

“Majority of international colleges now use multiple-choice questions. It’s a single best answer question. It is a better type of assessment to answer questions. It is also an advantage for the narrative skills of individuals,” Koto said.

However, CSMA president Flavia Senkubuge, said the probe into the low pass rate was continuing.

She said the probe would focus on both sets of those who failed and those who passed the examination.

“The institutions that managed to pass the examination must be approached to adopt their training mechanism. We need to ask questions: the universities that have passed what is it that they are doing and those that have not passed what are the challenges?”

She said the training institutions were not equal and, therefore, not all institutions were going to get a 100% pass rate. She added that 44% was not a pass rate, but a qualification rate.

“The pass rate will be determined at the end of this month after part two of the examination. The final exam has two parts. Part one (written component) which was written on July 25 and 26.

“Part two (clinical component) will be written next week. Only candidates who achieved a sub-minimum of 45% in one paper with a minimum of 50% in the other paper will be invited to part two of the exam and those that are not satisfied with the results will be allowed to appeal after the part two of the exam,” Senkubuge said.

Koto also said the decline in the pass rate started last year and investigations were done, however, there were no major changes on the examination.

“At the council, questions were raised about the kind of training the students were getting and workload issues and we also looked if the exams were fair or unfair and other issues related to the marking process. On our findings there was no major changes, however, we are continuing with high level investigation,” Koto said.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa said it was getting involved in the investigations to ensure that relevant aspects were dealt with.

The investigation is expected to be completed later this year.

Share this article:

Related Articles