CMSA probe into mass surgery exam failings shows paper was fairly marked

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The surgery exams failed by most of the country’s final-year students were fairly marked, the Colleges of Medicine of SA (CMSA) says, following a check by the Colleges of American Surgeons, the West African Colleges of Surgeons and a third body.

According to a report in The Times, the organisation said this was shown by an international moderation process, the organisation said.

The CMSA asked three international organisations to check the exams and their marking, rather than using local surgeons and said Flavia Senkubuge, CMSA president said the results from the Colleges of American Surgeons, the West African Colleges of Surgeons and a third body have shown the exam results were correct.

Senkubuge said there had been other classes of registrars writing their final specialist exams, where even fewer than 44% of the class passed. In some cases, less than 30% of all candidates writing exams passed. She said the outcry had started because it was the “Ivy League universities” which had entire classes failing.

According to the report, he believes part of the problem is that registrars who are becoming specialists are working so hard in academic hospitals they do not get sufficient time to study. This may explain why so many failed the academic exams. “We are not surprised by that as their workload is enormous.”

CMSA started the investigation after only 15 of the 46 candidates who wrote the exam passed, reports News24. Senkubuge said the exam was a two-part process and that the final part was in the form of an oral exam between October 14 and 18. The problem, however, is that if a candidate fails the first written exam, they are not invited for the oral exam.

Zach Koto, president of the council of surgeons at the CMSA, announced at the media briefing that a multiple-choice format will be used, starting from next year.

The Star reports that Koto said the 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.

CSMA president Flavia Senkubuge, said the probe into the low pass rate was continuing and would focus on both 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.


The Times report
News24 report
The Star report

See also

CMSA investigation into ‘shocking’ mass failures in surgery finals

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