Types of assessment at JCU Medical School

9 September 2014

Are you headed to JCU Medical School in Queensland?
JCU Medical School specializes in rural and remote medicine. The JCU program has a unique place among Australian medical schools. The course is undertaken entirely in northern Australia and has an emphasis on tropical medicine, the health of rural and remote communities, and of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. The medical program is informed by a concern for social justice, innovation and excellence in medical education, research and service.

JCU Medical School
Study tropical medicine at JCU!


It is well known that the public highly value qualities of integrity, honesty and caring in doctors, as well as clinical knowledge and skills. For this reason, students are not only assessed on their health knowledge and skills, but also on their professional behaviour. It is possible for a student who passes assessment on knowledge to fail because they have behaved dishonestly, unreliably and without regard to the well-being of patients and other staff. Accordingly, assessment in the course involves knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes:

  • Assessment is integrated. This means the module areas are assessed together, not in separate exams.
  • Assessment may be formative—tasks designed to help students and staff work out how the student is getting on. In formative assessment the marks do not count in the final result.
  • Some tasks are hurdles where students are required to complete the work to a satisfactory standard.
  • Other assessment is summative–tasks designed to help students and staff work out how the student is learning. Marks in summative assessment count in the final result. The following gives an overview of the type of assessment.

Types of Assessment

Exams are held at the end of the first and second study periods in Years 1, 2 and 3. Exams are a combination of written papers using cases, multiple choice questions and practicals. In the practicals, students complete activities such as taking a history and examining patients, demonstrating practical skills such as taking a blood pressure or using a microscope and analysing information. Midyear examinations assess work from study period one, while end of year examinations assess work from both study period one and two although practical exams for the whole of the year are held at the end of study period 2. The following are examples of the type of assessment used:
Students are given a series of short tests during the study period in the multiple choice format to assist students in early identification of their strengths and areas for improvement.
Written assignments
Students produce assignments on a variety of medical, health and science related topics. As students become more senior, assessment includes more clinical case studies and presentations related to clinical care and community based health issues.
Oral presentations
Students deliver talks to other students and staff or to clinical staff.
Professional Development Portfolios
Students are required to produce a portfolio of work, achievements, study plans and their reflections. Marks for the Continuing Professional Development Portfolios contribute to the final result.
Group Assessments
Students undertake a number of group presentations both in regular classes and in special events.
Assessment on Placement
Students attend placements and produce reports or submit reflective writing tasks. While these are formative tasks, they are coursework requirements.
Clinical Skills Hurdles
As part of the teaching of Clinical Skills, students are required to attend and pass a number of clinical skills hurdles that test the competency of a student against a given criteria.

James Cook University Medical School

Program: Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Semester intake: February 2015
Duration: 6 years

Do you have questions about JCU Medical School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Officer Broghan Dean at broghan@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355 (toll free in Canada).