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Accuracy of Self-Assessment Compared to Objective Performance in Written Anatomy Examinations


Aim: To evaluate the ability of medical students to accurately predict their performance in written anatomy tests.
Methods: In part 1, 189 Year 1 to 4 students answered 100 best-of-four multiple-choice anatomy questions under examination conditions. In part 2, 58 Year 2 students answered 100 questions of different styles. Immediately after both tests, students estimated their marks. Unpaired t test, ANOVA and Pearson coefficient were used for statistical analysis.

Results: Overall, students underestimated their performance by 16.2±15.2% (mean ± SD), with no improvement in accuracy noted along the years (p = 0.7560). Although there was no significant difference in the mean overall score obtained by gender, females underrated their performance significantly more than males (19.1±13.9% vs 12.8±16.0%, p = 0.0048). Students from other EU counties underestimated their performance significantly more than Maltese students. A weak-to-moderate uphill correlation was noted between improved performance and degree of underestimation (Pearson's r=0.38, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.58, p =0.0033). No difference was found in students' ability to predict their mark in relation to the question type they considered hardest.

Discussion: Underestimation was significantly greater in female students and non-Maltese students from other EU countries, suggesting a lack of confidence disproportionate to their ability. No question type allowed students to better estimate marks, suggesting that accuracy may depend more on exam-taking skills.

Conclusions: Targeted training of self-evaluation skills should be included in the medical curriculum and beyond.

Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2023
Publication Date May 1, 2023
Journal Journal of Academic Development and Education Anatomical Sciences Special Edition
Print ISSN 2051-3593
Keywords anatomy, self-assessment, objective performance, accuracy
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