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Top Tips for the Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

Updated: Aug 7, 2022

The SJT is an exam taken in final year of medical school and is used along with your Educational Performance (EPM) to rank applicants for the UK Foundation Programme (UKFP). The SJT makes up a huge 50% of the application for the UKFP!

This article will outline some top tips to help you score as highly as possible in this exam so you can secure the Foundation jobs you want!

1. Understand what is being tested

The SJT is unlike any other exam you have undertaken at medical school. It is designed to test you on behaviours, and attitudes expected of a competent Foundation Year doctor - it is specifically not designed to test you on clinical skills or knowledge. Understanding what is being tested is crucial to targeting your revision.

2. Focus on key domains being tested

- Patient safety: this is the number one priority in most questions for the SJT. Questions involving patient safety come up all the time in the SJT so make sure you understand this key principle.

- Professionalism: this covers probity, integrity, and other aspects of ethical medical practice.

- Communication: effective written and verbal communication with patients, colleagues and the wider medical team.

- Teamwork: taking responsibility within a team, teaching, leading and understanding the roles of other MDT members.

Reading GMC Good Medical Practice will give you detailed information on exactly what is expected of you.

3. Understand the format of the exam

It’s a long exam - 2 hours 20 minutes in total with 70 questions. Two thirds of the exam consist of questions asking you to rank answers to a particular scenario from best to worst (1-5). Each question is marked out of 20.

The other one third of questions ask you to choose the three best answers to a particular scenario. Each of these questions is marked out of 12.

4. Employ effective exam technique

- There will often be a clear best and worst answer to a question (rank 1 and 5). Decide on those first which will often make deciding the ranking for the rest of the answers easier.

- Read the scenarios carefully: the wording of scenarios is meticulously thought out and nothing will be in there for the sake of it - it all has a meaning.

- Use only the information provided in the question: it is easy to often infer meaning from questions but do not do this! Only use information directly provided in the question.

- This is a long exam - you only have 2 minutes on average for each question. If you are unsure of an answer, do your best and move on. You don’t want to lose marks by not being able to compete the paper!

5. Spend time on the wards

Spending quality time on the wards during your placements will allow you to see how teams interact with each other and patients, as well as the differing roles of the MDT. Treat everyday scenarios as mock SJT questions which will help you for the exam as well as in the long run!

6. Practice, practice, practice

Doing a large volume of practice questions will definitely help you pick out recurring themes in the exam and allow you to home in your exam technique. Practice SJT books are abundant and make sure you do the official SJT mock exam on the UKFPO website - you can print a paper version which will make it more realistic.


The SJT accounts for a large proportion of your UKFP application and plays a key part in determining where you will be for the first 2 years of your medical career. However, by understanding the format of the exam and what is being tested, as well as practicing sample questions you can help yourself achieve the best possible score you can!

By Satvik Verma.

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