Changes to the format and delivery of the AMC Clinical Examination for IMGs


This communication is an update regarding the AMC recommencing the clinical examinations from March 2021.

The recommencement of clinical examinations has been a priority for the AMC since the postponement of exams in mid-March 2020. The solution to recommence examinations is to ensure that they are delivered in a safe and responsible manner that meets both government health guidelines and legislative requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AMC will commence an online delivery of the clinical examinations which will allow International Medical Graduates an opportunity to progress with their examination pathway and, if successfully awarded the AMC certificate, apply for registration with the Medical Board of Australia.

The examinations will recommence with two ‘pilot’ examinations in March 2021. The approach to the pilot examinations and other useful information for candidates is described below.

Examination scheduling
Candidates who were scheduled in the postponed examinations between March and June 2020 will receive priority scheduling based on the date and chronological order of their originally scheduled examination. To be eligible, candidates must not have withdrawn their position and must still be residing in Australia. Scheduling will be offered based on the order of the originally scheduled examinations.

The AMC will shortly commence contacting these candidates with newly available examination dates, determine if the date is at a suitable time, and agree acceptance with the candidate (or not). The AMC will reschedule the candidate to the new examination date which will then appear on their candidate portal.

If candidates are unable to attend the offered examination date, these candidates will continue to receive priority for upcoming examinations as they are made available and until a suitable date can be found. This will continue until scheduling returns to normal when these candidates have been offered an opportunity to attempt the examination and scheduling becomes more broadly available to other candidates.

Examination delivery and format
The examination will initially be delivered via the Zoom platform. Once the candidate accepts the offered position, the new examination date will be updated by the AMC on their candidate portal in the following days. The candidate will need to login to their candidate portal on the day of the examination and a link will be provided to enter the examination.

Candidates will undertake the examination online. A personal computer will be required with a microphone and a webcam at eye level. All Apple computers, such as Macbooks and iMacs, or other personal mobile devices such as mobile phones or tablets cannot be used for the examination. A reliable internet connection will be required and this is the responsibility of the candidate. Further technical specifications and guidance to assist candidates will be made available prior to the recommencement of examinations.

As candidates will not have to travel to a testing centre and can attempt the examination online, they must have a room available with only themselves being present in the room during the examination and they must ensure that it is free of distractions for the whole examination. Upon admittance into the examination, an AMC staff member will check the candidate identification and complete the following tasks with the candidate;

  • Be shown the room by the candidate via webcam to help ensure there are no recording devices, support or reading materials, other technology devices, or other people present.
  • The candidate is to verbally agree to very strict policy regarding the security of the examination and related material (eg. no recording or distribution of examination content) and the integrity of the examination objectives (eg. no outside assistance or cheating). Breaching the policy can have serious consequences. The ramifications, and processes involved, when there is concern of candidates breaching this policy will be included in the examination specifications.

The examination specifications will be updated prior to the recommencement of examinations. Updates, or changes, will reflect the online delivery method versus in-person examinations. Candidates will be advised when the updates occur and when they will be available.

The examination blueprint currently remains the same. For each examination, eighteen (18) candidates will attempt sixteen (16) stations with four (4) rest stations. This is consistent with the in-person examination that candidates are familiar with at the time examinations were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main points of difference include;

  • Some pre-examination checklists and preparation the candidates will need to undertake to confirm technology is working and a suitable examination environment is available.
  • Candidates will access the examination through their candidate portal. When accessing the examination, the candidate computer browser will access the examination through a ‘safe browser’ with limited functionality that does not allow access to other applications or copy/paste functions (for example). This is to help protect the integrity of the examination and AMC examination materials. It also provides additional technology support for the candidate and helps with reliable delivery of the examination.
  • As mentioned above, upon admission to the examination the candidate identity will be verified in a similar manner to the in-person examinations requiring photo identification. A check of the environment will be undertaken for security purposes, and the candidate will need to verbally agree to very strict policy regarding the security and integrity of the examination.
  • Following admission of all candidates to the examination, candidates will receive a briefing of the examination processes and protocols in a similar way to how they were delivered with in-person examinations.
  • An examination co-ordinator will move candidates between examination stations and rest stations according to centrally controlled timings that will be broadcast to all examination participants including candidates.
  • Between each station, candidates will return to a ‘holding/rest station’ while the examination co-ordinators confirm the examination is ready for the next rotation to commence. This is designed to provide a smooth rotation experience without loss of rotation sequencing and it will also provide a brief rest for candidates between each station.
  • Each examination station will include a trained simulated patient and examiner. Again, this is similar to in-person examinations. While this remains the same, each station will now have a live AMC invigilator present. The invigilator will be responsible for checking the candidate is on the correct station for each rotation and will deliver examination tasks and findings according to each scenario. The invigilator also performs an important security role monitoring the online environment and will be in constant independent communication with the examination Chairperson, co-ordinators, and support staff. The invigilator will not be able to answer any scenario related questions but is available to assist with the smooth conduct of the examination.

Preparatory examination materials and briefings
The AMC is currently preparing further briefing information and FAQs which will be made available to candidates prior to the examinations to assist with preparation. The briefing information, which is also being referred to as a ‘practice examination’, will guide the candidates through the procedural aspects of the examination delivery. It will not be designed for candidates to prepare for the examination content with the exception of how the content will be delivered.

The intention is for this briefing to be recorded and made available to candidates so they can familiarise themselves and prepare for the examinations in advance. The intent is to minimise candidate concerns regarding the examination delivery so they can focus more on the examination content and simulated patient interactions.

Pilot examinations
The AMC is undertaking extensive development and testing of the online examination delivery plus pre-examination and post-examination activities. To complete the testing, the first two examinations in March 2021 will be conducted as ‘pilot’ examinations. These will be offered to candidates according to the scheduling approach previously described. As these pilot examinations form part of the final testing, they will be undertaken according to real examination conditions, processes and policy. If the pilot examination is successfully delivered, candidates who receive a Pass in these two pilot examinations will be awarded a Pass result. Candidates that receive a Fail result will be offered one other attempt at a later date. The AMC appeals policy will not apply to this examination. The Fail result will not be recorded on their candidate transcript/profile. The pilot examinations will be scheduled in March 2021.

Considerations regarding potential technology issues during an examination
The AMC is undertaking significant effort to ensure the examinations can be delivered in a reliable manner with a high level of assessment quality and organisational professionalism. However, like all online activities the examination is susceptible to technology failures. This may include events such as the candidates’ own technology failing, internet related failures or even AMC technology. The AMC is currently finalising and testing processes, which include communication protocols, to deal with these types of events with the likelihood they may occur. Scenarios consider potential events effecting individual candidates to larger scale events effecting many (or all) candidates. The AMC processes also include post examination activities and technology investigations that can determine if a potential technology issue was legitimate or involved human intervention such as turning off a computer or internet connection. The processes and approach can also identify responsible parties (eg. the AMC or the candidate or other) to determine appropriate courses of action to ensure the integrity of the examination and fairness to all candidates. Further information will made closer to the examinations.

Ongoing scheduling and examination delivery
Following the two pilot examinations, Clinical examinations will recommence two days per week over the following months until further notice. When the examinations are running reliably, the intention is to then potentially scale the examination volumes for candidates and also increase accessibility. This decision will take into account the ability to continue the successful delivery of examinations for the welfare of candidates and the organisational professional standards of AMC Assessment.

More information and FAQs
Please direct any enquiries to the AMC Clinical Section via our Contact Form.
All enquiries will receive a response and will also be used to build an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list that will be posted to the AMC website in due course.

Regards

AMC Clinical Section