AUSTRALIAN DOCTOR (27 February 2008)

EDITOR: Your chief political correspondent, Paul Smith, criticises the medical school entry system on the grounds that it is invalid and inequitable ('Testing time for student selection', Gut Feelings, 1 February).

However, an 'admission lottery' would make a mockery of the whole process because it is anti-meritorious. Who would want to see a doctor who was admitted to medical school based on luck?

GAMSAT (the graduate entry test) is a test of irrelevant knowledge, so it is fair to question the validity of the test. In fact, the dean of the University of Sydney's medical school admits that GAMSAT is not a good tool for selecting potential doctors. However, UCAT (the year 12 entry test) is a test of generic skills and therefore a good predictor of success in any professional endeavour.>

Psychometric tests such as UCAT are new in Australia, but in the US many such tests have been in use for decades. Coaching organisations are therefore well established. I was recently told by officials at the Educational Testing Service at Princeton University (the equivalent of the Australian Council for Educational Research) that they have no objection to coaching because what is important is that students learn the skills that are tested, whether it is at school, university or at a coaching college.