Medical school/ UK/ the Gap

In previous posts I’ve shown that the Black-White cognitive gap in the UK has evaporated. Yet I also pointed to several anomalies, for example, the poor performance of Black Britons on Medical and Law school entrance exams. Previously I’ve dismissed these curiosities
on account of the age of the cohorts involved. The closing of the gap seems to have occurred in the last generation. And I guesstimated the average age of Medical and Law school applicants to be about 30.

The recent UKCAT 2010/2011 Annual report, though, gives an average age of 21 (my calculations based on the information provided). The applicants would have been born in 1990, which is the same average year of birth as that of the individuals in the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, which I pointed to as showing small to trivial gaps.

UKCAT 2011
Ethnicity………….N…….% of test takers……..CATIQ
White British……..10630…..51%…………………100
White Other………..1265…..6%…………………..94
Mixed race………….759……4%………………….95

I can’t be claimed that the UKCAT is a worse measure of cognitive ability than the others mentioned. It was specifically designed as measure of “innate intelligence”:

The UKCAT is an aptitude exam and is designed to measure innate cognitive abilities, personality and learning styles. The exam consists of four cognitive subtests: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Decision Analysis . Items include those developed from the operational items used in the previous administrations and from new items trialled in 2008. The fifth component (Behavioural Test) is intended to assess non-cognitive attributes of empathy, integrity and robustness that are associated with good doctors and dentists (UKCAT Annual Report)

As the average cognitive ability of Blacks in the UK is about the same as that of Whites, per my estimate, it must be that the Blacks who apply to Medical and Dental schools have lower levels of ability than average. Part of the difference is possibly due to test unfamiliarity. Chinese, for one, seem to underperform relative to their genetic potential as do Asians and non-UK Whites (Which includes Arabs and North Africans). But this could count for only half of the difference, assuming the test is equally biased against other groups.

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4 Responses to Medical school/ UK/ the Gap

  1. Fing says:

    I don’t have access to my links right now but I remember reading a longitudinal study of around 80,000 students in the UK that showed black students have a higher academic self concept than whites even when performing at a lower level than whites.

    Blacks might just feel more confident than whites in their academic abilities and apply to Med school/Law school even though they’re not really at that level.

  2. Steve says:

    “As the average cognitive ability of Blacks in the UK is about the same as that of Whites, per my estimate, it must be that the Blacks who apply to Medical and Dental schools have lower levels of ability than average.”

    Why would that be?

    The fact that ‘white other’ gets .94 does support the case that it doesn’t reflect racial differences in IQ, but what is the explanation then?

  3. Kiwiguy says:

    Just on the UK education system – they’re trying to bring back some rigor to the GCSE’s.

    “The new exams, dubbed ‘Gove- levels’, follow claims that GCSEs, which replaced O-levels in 1986, are too easy. Under Mr Gove’s shake-up, the current system whereby nearly three in ten pupils get A or A* grades will go. Instead as few as one in ten will get the top mark, Grade 1.

    Marks will depend on a traditional ‘all or nothing’ three-hour exam at the end of the two-year course, rather than the current system in which up to half the grading is based on modules and continual assessment, followed by a 90-minute exam at the end…

    Pupils will no longer be able to bump up their grades with endless re-sits of each exam module. In future they will have to re-sit the entire exam, which is expected to deter most.

    And in a controversial move designed to counter claims that GCSEs are far too easy for bright pupils, questions in the new exam will be graded, starting with easy questions and building up to difficult questions which will stretch the cleverest pupils.

    It means that less able pupils may be unable to complete the paper. But Mr Gove will argue it is vital to boost standards.

    In addition, the new exams will be run by a single exam board following complaints that competition between rival boards is driving down standards.

    Board officials have been accused of boasting how easy their exams are, and giving tips to teachers on the content of papers. Ministers said the current rules had created a ‘race to the bottom’ in standards.”

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