Updates to SFP for 2024

SFP Application Specialists

There have been numerous changes to the way in which FY1s are selected for the SFP. Here, we will break them down in brief.

SFP: Preference Informed Allocation

A significant change is the introduction of the “Preference Informed Allocation” system. The UK statutory education bodies have collectively decided to change how candidates are sorted and matched to foundation schools. Unlike previous years where the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and the Educational Performance Measure (EPM) played crucial roles in determining rank, this new allocation model relies on a computer-generated rank to match applicants with their preferred foundation schools.

The principle behind this is simple, yet a departure from previous thinking; it aims to give as many candidates as possible their first-choice preference. The allocation algorithm on Oriel, the online application platform, will operate based on this computer-generated ranking. This reformed method seems to provide a more straightforward allocation process, though how it will influence the quality of matches remains to be seen.

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Situational Judgement Test and Educational Performance Measure

In accordance with the shift to Preference Informed Allocation, the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) has been phased out for FP2024 applications, and will only continue to be relevant for F2 Stand-alone recruitment. The Educational Performance Measure (EPM), including decile scores, has also been removed. Previously, these two metrics had equal weighting, composing a total FP application score out of a maximum of 100 points.

If you’ve already thought about preparing for the SJT, this alteration might come as a relief or perhaps a sudden pivot. Either way, it signals the need for candidates to adapt and focus on other dimensions that can set them apart in the highly competitive SFP landscape.

Streamlining Specialised Foundation Programme White Spaced Questions

Those familiar with the SFP application process will remember the potentially daunting series of white space questions. There’s some good news here, as the number of questions has been streamlined from ten to a more manageable five. Remember that the EPM decile score will no longer be part of the SFP recruitment process, leaving these white space questions as a critical part of your application. Specialised Units of Application (SUoAs) and Foundation Schools are in the process of revising their local selection criteria, making the answers to these questions more important than ever.

Though specifics may vary between units, it’s vital to be proactive and consult the specific SUoA websites for updated criteria. These changes could impact how your achievements are considered during the shortlisting and interview processes. It’s not just about accumulating points anymore; your application should exhibit a well-rounded portfolio, demonstrating capabilities in research, leadership, and medical education.

Filling out these questions requires strategic thinking and thorough preparation. Your answers should not only reflect your competence but also your understanding of the unit you’re applying to and its unique requirements. Make your every word count.

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Application Timeline Adjustments

Another notable change that 2024 applicants should be aware of is the modification in the main application window. For 2023, the application period was between 7–20 September, and for 2022, it was 8–21 September. This year, the window has been moved further into September, running from 20 September to 4 October 2023. This alteration, albeit subtle, provides applicants with additional time to refine their applications. The extension might seem marginal, but those extra days can prove invaluable for last-minute adjustments or unforeseen technical glitches. Act wisely and use this extra time to polish your application to perfection.

Adapting to AFP Changes for 2024

Given the significant overhauls for 2024, your approach to SFP applications should fundamentally change. First, remove any preparatory material aimed at Situational Judgement Tests and —those are now defunct. Since the new allocation process centres around a computer-generated ranking, focus on elements within your control, such as the streamlined White Spaced Questions (WSQs).

You now have fewer questions to answer, so each response should be crafted meticulously to demonstrate your skills in research, leadership, or medical education. The removal of EPM and SJT also suggests that Specialised Units of Application (SUoAs) may employ alternative selection criteria, which are likely to be more qualitative and perhaps more aligned with their specialised focus.

Given the removal of decile scores, understand that local selection processes are changing. Stay updated via the SUoA websites and possibly reach out to current participants for insights into the new selection process. Preparing for these alterations effectively can position you advantageously in this new application landscape.

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