Applying to Medical School

AAMC SJT (Situational Judgment Test): What Students Should Know

New for 2020 is the SJT, Utilized by Two Schools as Part of a Pilot Program

AAMC Situation Judgment Test (SJT)

The AAMC Situational Judgment Test (SJT) was created to improve the admissions process by assisting medical schools to assess pre-professional competencies that have been shown to impact the long-term performance of an individual as a medical professional. If combined with pre-interview screening, the AAMC SJT has the capacity to:

  • Assist in facilitating holistic review earlier in the screening process of the application
  • Provide academic metrics that is balanced
  • Determine applicants that have specific strong or weak pre-professional competence that may need additional review
  • Widen the skills, experience, and demographic variation of the applicant pool considered for the next phase

Considering the long-standing commitment of the AAMC to serving the community of medical school admissions, they are uniquely positioned to create a program that is both efficient and trusted by vital stakeholders.

The AAMC has established a document that goes over this information this information at

What is measured on the AAMC SJT exam?

It is a standardized exam that presents various hypothetical scenarios that students may pass through when they’re in medical school and asks participants to evaluate the effectiveness of some behavioral responses to each scenario.

The AAMC has joined forces with experts in various subjects in the medical school community, including admissions officers, faculty, students, and diversity affairs officers to incorporate the exam for medical schools.

The response of those that are participating in the examination will offer insight into their knowledge of effective and ineffective qualities across eight important pre-professional competencies for new medical students.

The competencies were determined by medical educators as being vital for students to understand in order to be successful in medical school. They include:

  1. Capacity for improvement
  2. Resilience and adaptability
  3. Reliability and dependability
  4. Ethical responsibility to self and to others
  5. Teamwork
  6. Cultural competence
  7. Social skills
  8. Service orientation

Research backing the AAMC SJT test

The AAMC has a multi-phase research plan to determine the competence of students in four areas, including psychometrics, fairness, predicting medical student performance, and community reactions. Research has engaged MCAT examinees, medical students, and medical school admissions officers to study the different forms of the SJT.

General results of these research studies have shown the AAMC SJT:

    • Is valid and reliable
    • Correctly predicts the performance of medical students
    • Shows small to no group variations
    • Adds value to the process of admissions above and beyond existing application data

The operational pilot for 2020

Together with two medical schools – University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities and University of California Davis School of Medicine – the AAMC will carry out a limited-scale operational pilot to show:

    • How best to administer this type of assessment
    • How to include it into the application process of undergraduates
    • To have a better understanding of the ways in which it can be used to bring value to the admissions community

Throughout the 2021 medical school application and selection cycle that is approaching, both schools taking part in the pilot will strongly encourage applicants to complete the AAMC SJT during the application cycle of 2021. To get additional information on how these schools will apply the scores during the evaluation phase of admission, directly reach out to the admissions offices.

Applicants that are planning to apply to either school should visit the official website for additional details regarding the AAMC SJT pilot, including requirements for applicants of both pilot schools, frequently asked questions, and much more.

The exam is open only to applicants to the two pilot schools mentioned earlier for the AMCAS 2021 cycle, and applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the exam on one of the provided exam dates.

If scores are displayed to enhance the holistic review process of the schools, then the schools may consider them as one part of their admission decisions. The exam will be carried out in two testing windows across six dates. Appointments will be available throughout each test day starting at 8 a.m. local time.

Exam format & length

The exam is made up of written scenario sets that present hypothetical dilemma associated to eight vital competencies. The scenarios are based on real-world situations you may experience in medical school. They are set in health care, educational, or other real-life settings. This is similar to the CASPer exam.

Read More –> Podcast 79: Are You Thinking About the CASPer Exam?

The scenarios were created for pre-health students, and prior health care experience is not needed to perform well on the exam. Following each given scenario are items that describe actions you could take in response to the dilemma presented in the scenario.

You will be asked to rate the effectiveness of each action using a 4-point scale:

    • 1 = very ineffective
    • 2 = ineffective
    • 3 = effective
    • 4 = very effective

There will be a total of 30 scenarios and 186 items on the test. Sample scenarios sets can be found online for practice, and a full-length practice exam will be available on or about Aug. 1, 2020, to help you become familiar with AAMC SJT scenarios and items.

Total session time may vary depending on the required technology check for remote-proctored, online exams. You may shorten the time needed by ensuring in advance of your exam check-in that your workspace is clear of prohibited materials, that your technology meets all the required specifications, and by closing all applications and programs. An overview of the time allocated is as follows:

    • Examinee agreement: 4 minutes
    • Tutorial (optional): 5 minutes
    • Check-in: 5 to 10 minutes
    • Exam time: 75 minutes
    • Void question: 3 minutes
    • Check-out: 2 to 5 minutes
    • Post-test survey (optional): 5 minutes
    • Total session: 90 to 105 minutes

How should students study for the exam & AAMC SJT sample questions

The exam is very similar to the CASPer exam, so we recommend that students do the MedSchoolCoach CASPer Prep & Simulation program to gain the confidence they need to do well on the exam. You should also look over the sample questions that AAMC has published, available here.

Sahil Mehta

Sahil Mehta M.D. is an attending physician in the Department of Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Founder of MedSchoolCoach. Dr Mehta is one of the world’s experts on medical school admissions having founded MedSchoolCoach in 2007. MedSchoolCoach provides admissions consulting to premedical students in the form of interview preparation, essay editing and general advising. In the past 10 years, he has had a hand in over a thousand acceptances to medical school.

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