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The purpose of this study was to develop an effective screening tool for identifying physician assistant (PA) program applicants at highest risk for poor academic performance. Prior to reviewing applications for the class of 2009, a retrospective analysis of preadmission data took place for the classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008. A single composite score was calculated for each student who matriculated (number of subjects, N=228) incorporating the total undergraduate grade point average (UGPA), the science GPA (SGPA), and the three component Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores: verbal (GRE-V), quantitative (GRE-Q), analytical (GRE-A). Individual applicant scores for each of the five parameters were ranked in descending quintiles. Each applicant's five quintile scores were then added, yielding a total quintile score ranging from 25, which indicated an excellent performance, to 5, which indicated poorer performance. Thirteen of the 228 students had academic difficulty (dismissal, suspension, or one-quarter on academic warning or probation). Twelve of the 13 students having academic difficulty had a preadmission total quintile score 12 (range, 6-14). In response to this descriptive analysis, when selecting applicants for the class of 2009, the admissions committee used the total quintile score for screening applicants for interviews. Analysis of correlations in preadmission, graduate, and postgraduate performance data for the classes of 2009-2013 will continue and may help identify those applicants at risk for academic difficulty. Establishing a threshold total quintile score of applicant GPA and GRE scores may significantly decrease the number of entering PA students at risk for poor academic performance.


David Luce. Screening applicants for risk of poor academic performance: a novel scoring system using preadmission grade point averages and graduate record examination scores. The journal of physician assistant education : the official journal of the Physician Assistant Education Association. 2011;22(3):15-22

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PMID: 22070059

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