Summative Objective Structured Clinical Examination Assessment: A Mini Review

Document Type : Mini Review


Department of Emergency Medicine, Altnagelvin Hospital, Northern Ireland, UK


The end of any form of rigorous, specific, and high-stakes process of systematic and structured instruction is characterized by a summative assessment to evaluate the learner’s ability to apply the body of knowledge or clinical skills encountered and interacted with over a specific duration and to progress to the next phase of training. The aim of this project is to analyze the design, validity, delivery, supervision, and feedback of a summative objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) assessment. The results of this analysis showed a satisfactory and widely accepted method of assessment in medical education despite a few shortcomings. All forms of assessment have their inherent strengths and weaknesses, but it is essential that these assessments encourage future learning. Summative assessment has been proven to be a valid, comprehensive, and reliable method, and most importantly, it allows direct observation and evaluation of procedural and clinical skills.


  1. Rust C, Price M, O’Donovan B. Improving students’ learning by developing their understanding of assessment criteria and processes. Assess Eval High Educ. 2003;28(2):147-164. doi:10.1080/02602930301671.
  2. Ende J. Feedback in clinical medical education. JAMA. 1983;250(6):777-781. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340060055026.
  3. Ben-David MF. The role of assessment in expanding professional horizons. Med Teach. 2000;22(5):472-477. doi:10.1080/01421590050110731.
  4. Newble D. Techniques for measuring clinical competence: objective structured clinical examinations. Med Educ. 2004;38(2):199-203. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2004.01755.x.
  5. Harden RM, Gleeson FA. Assessment of clinical competence using an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Med Educ. 1979;13(1):41-54. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.1979.tb00918.x.
  6. Miller GE. The assessment of clinical skills/competence/ performance. Acad Med. 1990;65(9 Suppl):S63-67. doi:10.1097/00001888-199009000-00045.
  7. Martin IG, Jolly B. Predictive validity and estimated cut score of an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) used as an assessment of clinical skills at the end of the first clinical year. Med Educ. 2002;36(5):418-425. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01207.x.
  8. Prislin MD, Fitzpatrick CF, Lie D, Giglio M, Radecki S, Lewis E. Use of an objective structured clinical examination in evaluating student performance. Fam Med. 1998;30(5):338-344.
  9. Harden RM. Twelve tips for organizing an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Med Teach. 1990;12(3-4):259-264. doi:10.3109/01421599009006629.
  10. Brown C, Ross S, Cleland J, Walsh K. Money makes the (medical assessment) world go round: The cost of components of a summative final year Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Med Teach. 2015;37(7):653-659. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2015.1033389.
  11. Van Der Vleuten CP. The assessment of professional competence: Developments, research and practical implications. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 1996;1(1):41-67. doi:10.1007/BF00596229.
  12. Rudland J, Wilkinson T, Smith-Han K, Thompson-Fawcett M. “You can do it late at night or in the morning. You can do it at home, I did it with my flatmate.” The educational impact of an OSCE. Med Teach. 2008;30(2):206-211. doi:10.1080/01421590701851312.
  13. Ponnamperuma GG, Karunathilake IM, McAleer S, Davis MH. The long case and its modifications: a literature review. Med Educ. 2009;43(10):936-941. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03448.x.
  14. Hattie J, Timperley H. The power of feedback. Rev Educ Res. 2007;77(1):81-112. doi:10.3102/003465430298487.