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How the Faculty of Medicine became a trailblazer in digitalizing entrance exams in Slovakia

We have been working with the Jessenius Faculty of Medical at the Comenius University in Martin for three years now. After the outbreak of the covid pandemic, it sought ways to conduct the entrance exams in an online environment. In the end, it became one of the first Slovak faculties to completely switch to online admissions. The main criteria for the cooperation were the option of using their own test questions and to make the exams accessible to foreign students. The faculty has now been organizing its online admissions for three years. Other Slovak faculties followed their example. The main advantages of digitalizing the entrance exams for the faculty were: unified conditions for all applicants, it was simpler to organize the exams and the financial savings when testing foreign applicants. In spite of all the changes, the faculty managed to maintain a comparable success rate to that of the exams held in a test centre. The increase in the number of applications was also a pleasant finding.

 

Key results of digitalizing the tests

A 50 % reduction in the number of questions and thus the time taken
During the online tests the number of exam questions was halved (from 160 to 80). This also reduced the duration of the test to about 70 minutes.

A comparable success rate with exams held in a test centre
The candidates’ success rate was almost identical to those who sat the exam in a test centre, the difference being only one tenth of a percent.

Instead of 30, only 4 staff were needed to organize the exams
The move to an online environment made significant savings on staff capacity and simplified the entire organization of the exams. Roughly 30 staff members were needed for the exams in the test centre, once it switched to the online environment, only 4 faculty members were involved in organizing the exams The Scio team took care of the rest.

A 5% increase in the number of applicants
The faculty recorded a 5% year-on-year increase in applicants. The proportion of candidates who actually took the exams also increased. Normally, about 80-85% of the applicants came to the test centre for the admission test; in the online version, up to 95% of the applicants took the test.

 

The benefits of switching to online testing

Uniform conditions
The fact that online testing means international students do not have to travel across borders has led to a more even playing field. This is further added to by the fact that there are identical tests for all candidates on a given date, which was not possible when using test centres. This makes candidate assessment fairer and more objective.

Financial savings when testing foreign applicants
Initially, faculty staff traveled abroad so the applicants could take part in the admissions tests. The transition to an online environment means there is no need to travel, thus eliminating the high costs involved.

Maintaining the number of international students
The faculty has managed to maintain the same ratio of foreign applicants. The only thing that has changed with online admissions tests is the flexibility the faculty can now offer.

Support and know-how
The faculty highly appreciated our know-how in online exams, our fast communications and the technical support for both the faculty and students.

Scio was very helpful. We could use our own tests and customize both the time and the date they were held. They introduced us to things that we had not experienced before, we also adopted their know-how as concerns organizing the exams. Communications with the Scio team were quick, efficient and they always took a proactive approach to finding solutions to problems. We also appreciate their awareness and technical support as concerns our applicants.

Juraj Mokrý, Vice Dean of the Faculty

Faster results
There is less time spent waiting for results. The faculty gets the test results much faster than with paper-based test scoring.

Verification of candidates’ technological skills
Apart from testing their knowledge, it also verifies the candidates’ technological skills and whether they can navigate the online environment. Naturally, this is an essential skill for any one working in the health care profession in the future.

 

Recommendations

The online environment does not allow applicants to experience a university atmosphere
Many applicants choose their university on the basis of how the school environment and staff attitudes affect them. Obviously, this cannot be done during online admissions. The faculty tried to make up for this, for example, by filming interviews with other students at the university during open days.

Juraj Mokrý
Vice Dean of the Faculty
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