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The Australian Medical Schools Assessment Collaboration: benchmarking the preclinical performance of medical students

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Since 2000, the number of medical schools in Australia has expanded rapidly. Seven new schools have been established in the past 15 years, so there are now 19 medical schools. The schools differ with regard to entry point, curricula, course duration and teaching methods. Schools may identify themselves as aiming to achieve specific graduate attributes, for instance, producing future specialists, rural health practitioners or medical researchers, while others are more general in their aims.

Medical schools need a process that allows them to measure changes in their students’ and graduates’ performance relative to other medical schools, so they can evaluate changes to their selection criteria, curricula and teaching methods.

The Australian Medical Schools Assessment Collaboration (AMSAC) was established by a group of seven medical schools in 2008. It aims to allow Australian medical schools to share assessment items and performance statistics within an anonymous framework. While other assessment collaborations exist for item sharing, there has been no previous sharing of Australian student performance data. The formation principles guard against the construction of league tables. In 2013, the AMSAC collaboration comprised 12 Australian medical schools (Appendix 1).

The collaboration assesses preclinical medical…