OSCE; Objective Structured Clinical Examination

The University of Liverpool has been running OSCEs since 1997.

This exam is designed to quantitatively assess medical students’ clinical competence at the bedside.

Medical students must demonstrate that they have knowledge and competence (cognition) millers-pyramidto perform in clinical practice, that they ‘know’ the facts underpinning clinical practice but that they also ‘know how’ to apply these facts in practice.

Ultimately the students need to demonstrate their competence and knowledge using action and performance (behaviour) they need to perform clinical tasks (show and do)  and apply what they have learnt into the clinical environment. The ‘shows’ layer of this triangle can be related to the OSCEs using a safe environment to assess clinical competence.


The GMC produced a guideline called Promoting Excellence; standards for medical education and training which came into effect in January 2016. (accessed 17/10/2016)

This guideline highlighted the duties of a GMC registered doctor, with the first point stating that “knowledge, skills and performance” should be kept up to date and that doctors should recognise and work within the limits of their competence.

The OSCE assessment includes;

  • Multiple clinical encounters
  • A variety of clinical tasks mapped to the school’s curriculum
  • Multiple examiners
  • Standardised mark sheets

The GMC in Promoting Excellence states that medical student assessments must be carried out by someone with appropriate expertise, hence the examiner training package.