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Concerns about Ethics of UCAT

medhopeful2001x

New Member
Hi MSO,

Following A1's read into the UCAT Consortium report, it's clear that there are 3 exams that cycled to students via the UCAT.

My question/concern is this:

I go to a school with 150+ students sitting the exam, and post sitting it a lot of us have realised that we got literally the EXACT same exam.
So is it not reasonable to assume, that those sitting the exam at a later date, could get insights into the nature of the passages and patterns (specifically for VR & AR?) How is this fair?

Surely going in with a decent idea of the types of questions you will be getting, provides a massive unfair advantage!!

Sorry to sound angry, but it's because I am, at the prospect of being treated unfairly in an exam which is by definition supposed to induce fairness.
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I mean, i would understand if the same exam was given to students who sat the exam on the same day- however i've had multiple friends get the EXACT exam across more than a week's difference in testing dates
 

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A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
It's a valid concern. I mean it only takes 5-6 questions to turn a "useless" to a competitive UCAT score, which can result from having that advantage.

Have you thought about contacting UCAT/Pearson to let them know of the situation?
 

Kta

New Member
Yes, need to express our concerns to Pearson. This is not fair at all. All students should be done in one go.
 

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toothfairy13

New Member
Candidates should not be revealing contents in the first place. They are causing disadvantage to themselves.
I agree - everyone’s basically competing against each other so I don’t know why anyone would want to give anyone else any sort of advantage.
 

medhopeful2001x

New Member
Candidates should not be revealing contents in the first place. They are causing disadvantage to themselves.
Well I mean they shouldn't be of course. However there are 19,000+ students who sit the exam across ANZ and it's naive to think that there won't be students who don't take advantage of this. It takes under 5% of students to completely skew the data, and result in hundreds of students being selected unfairly as well as hundreds of students missing out unfairly.

I can tell you for a fact that there a number of students collating questions from their friends as we speak at my school alone.

As for the non-disclosure agreement, I dont recall explicity signing one (although it may be in their terms and conditions, which to be honest no one actually reads).
 
Are there any non-disclosure agreements signed by test takers?
I believe there's a screen you have to click through before you begin the exam which says "I agree that this exam is Pearson VUE confidential, and will not disclose any of its contents", etc etc
 

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medhopeful2001x

New Member
It's a valid concern. I mean it only takes 5-6 questions to turn a "useless" to a competitive UCAT score, which can result from having that advantage.

Have you thought about contacting UCAT/Pearson to let them know of the situation?
I actually did, via the phone. They were absolutely no help and said to email any concerns I had. I've since emailed them and am yet to get a reply (it's only been about 20hrs since I emailed them.)

My fear is however, that it'll just get brushed aside with a dismissive response. Is there anything we can do as a community of medicine hopefuls to get this to the attention of the UCAT Consortium & PearsonVue? Like A1 said, it doesn't take much to improve a score considerably. It's only a handful of questions.

To give you guys an idea of the gravity of this situation, I actually googled some of the passages that came up on my exam and found them pretty much word for word. Now if I was to share these passages from VR with my friends, they would almost be guaranteed of a much higher score simply due to their familiarity to the passage. Likewise, their has been a number of people at school getting 850+ AR scores after averaging in the 650-750 range. I don't want to undermine their score, however it is suspicious...
 

Ian Naga

Lurker
Well I mean they shouldn't be of course. However there are 19,000+ students who sit the exam across ANZ and it's naive to think that there won't be students who don't take advantage of this. It takes under 5% of students to completely skew the data, and result in hundreds of students being selected unfairly as well as hundreds of students missing out unfairly.

I can tell you for a fact that there a number of students collating questions from their friends as we speak at my school alone.

As for the non-disclosure agreement, I dont recall explicity signing one (although it may be in their terms and conditions, which to be honest no one actually reads).
As this test has been run over many years in the UK, this concern must have been asked, considered and dismissed already. Holistically, non-material tips from people who have already taken and posted on this board gives greater advantages to subsequent test takers. I am not talking about subject matter. I am talking about tips like: test locations to avoid or Use (noise level, scrap paper , working pens, attentive staff etc), keyboard shortcuts to use the calculator, tag a qs, etc. Even giving tips on how to relax before a test would be unfair advantage. Where do you stop? They all give unfair advantage to subsequent test takers.

All the same, there is no harm in raising your concerns and let us know what they say!
 

medhopeful2001x

New Member
As this test has been run over many years in the UK, this concern must have been asked, considered and dismissed already. Holistically, non-material tips from people who have already taken and posted on this board gives greater advantages to subsequent test takers. I am not talking about subject matter. I am talking about tips like: test locations to avoid or Use (noise level, scrap paper , working pens, attentive staff etc), keyboard shortcuts to use the calculator, tag a qs, etc. Even giving tips on how to relax before a test would be unfair advantage. Where do you stop? They all give unfair advantage to subsequent test takers.

All the same, there is no harm in raising your concerns and let us know what they say!
Yes of course, I do agree with that. Although I think there probably needs to be a distinction between giving advice regarding the nature of the test, and giving specific questions that one encountered within the exam. This is a clear distinction that MSO makes for obvious reasons, to provide advice whilst maintaining as much equity in the test taking process as possible.

I guess all i'm looking for here is a valid response or a form of reasoning from the UCAT Consortium as to whether there is something we're missing here.

I might add, that if anyone does find this situation to appear unfair at least on the surface to please email the UCAT Consortium via the email above (Ucat-anz@monash.edu ). I think if enough people do raise the issue, we're much more likely to be given a suitable response.
 

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Ian Naga

Lurker
Yes of course, I do agree with that. Although I think there probably needs to be a distinction between giving advice regarding the nature of the test, and giving specific questions that one encountered within the exam. This is a clear distinction that MSO makes for obvious reasons, to provide advice whilst maintaining as much equity in the test taking process as possible.

I guess all i'm looking for here is a valid response or a form of reasoning from the UCAT Consortium as to whether there is something we're missing here.

I might add, that if anyone does find this situation to appear unfair at least on the surface to please email the UCAT Consortium via the email above (Ucat-anz@monash.edu ). I think if enough people do raise the issue, we're much more likely to be given a suitable response.
I just had a thought. If ucat tutors (and there are numerous of them) take the test early in the cycle and somehow find a way to memorize some of the questions, it would indeed seem unfair. Ethically they are not supposed to share but what if they did? I wonder what ucat checks and balances are there.
Sorry it took a while but I can now see where you are going with this.
 

Adamus

New Member
I believe there's a screen you have to click through before you begin the exam which says "I agree that this exam is Pearson VUE confidential, and will not disclose any of its contents", etc etc
This is the equivalent of saying that everyone doing their end of year exams should do it on different days and that it would be totally fair because we 'weren't supposed to share with others'. Same principle applies here, there exists a population who do the UCAT purely for fun or to teach others and nothing is stopping them from providing an unfair advantage to a large portion of the cohort taking the exam later.
 

medhopeful2001x

New Member
I just had a thought. If ucat tutors (and there are numerous of them) take the test early in the cycle and somehow find a way to memorize some of the questions, it would indeed seem unfair. Ethically they are not supposed to share but what if they did? I wonder what ucat checks and balances are there.
Sorry it took a while but I can now see where you are going with this.
Yeah that's a big concern. There is a specific prep company that specifically told their students as late as possible, because they sat the exam themselves on the first testing date and are holding workshops for their students in Mid July...

but also:
This is the equivalent of saying that everyone doing their end of year exams should do it on different days and that it would be totally fair because we 'weren't supposed to share with others'. Same principle applies here, there exists a population who do the UCAT purely for fun or to teach others and nothing is stopping them from providing an unfair advantage to a large portion of the cohort taking the exam later.
I really think it's naive to think that students won't share the exams. I mean students share test/exam questions at school ALL the time. The UCAT is a serious high stakes exam, and to think it won't happen here is absurd.
 

Adamus

New Member
their claim that the difference is only 0.5 standard deviations in scores between different sets is also kinda iffy since 0.5 standard deviations at the higher end is literally the difference between a 'no chance' and a highly competitive score
 

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TKAO

crossed fingers for ATAR
Gold star winner
Yeah that's a big concern. There is a specific prep company that specifically told their students as late as possible, because they sat the exam themselves on the first testing date and are holding workshops for their students in Mid July...
Ah yes, I too know of this oddly specific trait of this one prep company ;)
 

A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
To give you guys an idea of the gravity of this situation, I actually googled some of the passages that came up on my exam and found them pretty much word for word.
Can you give us a link to a sample of this^, to use in a letter to UCAT ANZ?

Mana has before written an email on a concern to Monash on behalf of MSO student members, I think we can ask him to help again with this. Please draft up a letter in a post here, we then edit or add more to it if necessary. You should highlight at least these 3 concerns:

- students at your school (we won't reveal the school's name) discussing questions with those who have not sat the test
- potentially tutors at prep companies can do the test early then pass on specific knowledge to their paying customers
- people posting questions on websites, etc
 

Crow

Moderator Band
Moderator
I think the main issue is the lack of diversity of questions among individual candidate’s tests, rather than candidates sharing test questions with others. It’s inevitable that people will share test questions with others; it’s therefore up to the test writers/organisers to ensure there is a large bank of questions that get randomly assigned to each individual test sitter to mitigate the issue.

I haven’t looked into it myself, but has this been an issue in the past with the UKCAT? I’d be surprised if it’s become an issue in the UCAT this year if it wasn’t in the past - seems like a pretty simple issue to predict and take reasonable action against ahead of time.
 

Ian Naga

Lurker
I wonder if it can be explained by the way ucat is used in a lot of Universities in the UK which seems subtly different from how UMAT was used in Australia. Perhaps, it can also explain why ucat uses smaller bank of questions. One advantage of smaller bank of questions is that they could try to keep a level playing field in terms of difficulty. A small number of leaks may not matter if used like in the UK. I know if tutors pool together, it could become a large leak and problematic. UK universities invite a large pool of candidates (like 800+) to interviews and culling is based on GCSE/AL results (call it ATAR), UCAT, Interview, portfolio (they are big into PS), and equity schemes.
e.g BMBS Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
Frankly, I like the way it is used in the UK. But their application starts alomost 12 months before the start of the course but ours is a very short window, from Aug to Feb.

If ucat is going to be used like UMAT, it would be a problem . Hope our medical schools will adjust according to circumstances and not use the umat format.
e.g:
Highest & Lowest UCAT Scores Invited to Interview at U of Aberdeen (claimed to be 2nd best in UK for medicine)

2018 Entry2017 Entry2016 Entry2015 Entry2014 Entry
Home Fees
Highest: 3150

Lowest:
2380

Highest: 2480

Lowest: 1660

Highest: 3350

Lowest: 2180

Highest: 3290

Lowest: 2440

Highest: 3380

Lowest: 2450
Rest of UK Fees
Highest:
3090

Lowest:
2440

Highest: 2280

Lowest: 1920

Highest: 3240

Lowest: 2420

Highest: 3440

Lowest: 2550

Highest: 3340

Lowest: 2390
International Fees
Highest:
3010

Lowest:
2580

Highest: 2480

Lowest: 1850

Highest: 3140

Lowest: 2210

Highest: 3220

Lowest: 2620

Highest: 3410

Lowest: 2780
 

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