Your SJT – what to expect and how to prepare


What is the situational judgement test?

A situational judgement test (SJT) is a measurement method designed to assess judgement in work-relevant situations. The Scientist Training Programme (STP) situational judgement test has been developed by researchers from the Work Psychology Group (WPG), in collaboration with those working across healthcare science roles. It maps closely to the person specification for an STP trainee and explores values, behaviours, and professionalism, measuring target attributes including:

Empathy and compassion – seeks to recognise and understand the emotions, motives and behaviours form the patient/colleague perspective. Considers situations from patient/colleagues viewpoint, demonstrating an understanding of others situation and circumstances. Acknowledges and explores the patient’s wants and needs.

Professional integrity – open and honest with others, treating others with respect. Takes responsibility for own actions and is willing to admit mistakes. Conducts oneself in accordance with the ethical standards of the profession. Demonstrates a commitment to act in the patients’ best interests. Recognises the limitations of own knowledge, seeking advice where appropriate.

Team collaboration – capability and willingness to work effectively in partnership with others and in multi-disciplinary teams. Demonstrates a facilitative, collaborative approach, respecting others’ views. Offers support and advice, sharing tasks appropriately. Demonstrates an understanding of own and others’ roles within the team and consults with others where appropriate.

Adaptability – remains calm when faced with stressful or changing situations. Identifies when support is needed in times of difficulty or pressure and actively draws upon support. Understands and manages own emotions (even in times of disagreement -when needed),employing effective coping strategies when dealing with difficult or stressful situations. Accepts and manages uncertainty and change, responding flexibly. Capable of modifying behaviour to adapt to a specific situation.

The questions are developed to provide insight into how well an individual is suited to the role of a Trainee Clinical Scientist. SJTs are frequently used for recruitment purposes and research has shown  that SJTs have significant validity in predicting job performance.

During the assessment applicants are presented with a set of hypothetical scenarios that they may encounter at work and asked to make judgements about possible responses on a scale from 1 = Very Appropriate, to 5 = Very Inappropriate. Responses are then scored against a pre-determined answer key.

The SJT is strictly confidential and made available to applicants, solely for the purpose of assessment. Applicants are prohibited from disclosing, publishing, reproducing, or transmitting any part of the exam in any form. All applicants will be required to accept the non-disclosure agreement and terms of use prior to completing the SJT. If declined the STP application cannot progress.


Is there a time limit for the SJT?

You will have 50 minutes to complete the test, within the testing window. The timer will start with the first question and will be visible on the screen during the test.

If you require a specific reasonable adjustment to enable completion of the SJT, this must have been indicated on your application form and evidence to support the request provided. You must wait for confirmation that your reasonable adjustment request has been granted before starting the SJT. Click this link for information on reasonable adjustment requests.


The structure of the SJT

During the SJT you will be presented with 25 hypothetical scenarios, relevant to someone working in healthcare science. For each scenario there will be a number of hypothetical responses (between 4 and 8) which you will need to consider and rate.

For each scenario, you will be asked to rate the appropriateness of a series of responses to the scenario, using the following scale.

1 – Very appropriate An option is a very appropriate thing to do in response to the scenario and aligns exactly with what is expected of a trainee scientist.
2 – Somewhat appropriate An option is a somewhat appropriate thing to do in response to the scenario. It is somewhat aligned with what is expected of a trainee scientist.
3 – Neither appropriate nor inappropriate An option is neither appropriate nor inappropriate if the option does not oppose or align with what is expected of a trainee scientist.
4 – Somewhat inappropriate An option is a somewhat inappropriate thing to do in response to the scenario. It is somewhat opposed to what is expected of a trainee scientist.
5 – Very inappropriate An option is a very inappropriate thing to do in response to the scenario and directly opposes what is expected of a trainee scientist.

Throughout the SJT, you may notice that some terms are marked with an asterisk (*). Definitions are available for these terms and are included within a glossary of terminology, that will be available for you to view on the testing platform when you are taking the test.


Considering your answers

You should consider your answers from the viewpoint of being the Trainee Scientist. Think about what the Trainee Scientist should do in the given scenario, rather than what you may be likely to do given the circumstances.

Consider each response independently from the other responses presented within the scenario. For example, a response does not need to resolve all aspects of the scenario to be ‘1 = Very Appropriate’.

Within a single scenario, each rating can be used more than once or not at all. For example, all responses within a scenario can be given the same rating of ‘1= Very Appropriate’ if you feel that this is the correct rating for each response. Please give your best answer based on the information provided in each scenario.

The response options provided within a scenario are not intended to represent all possible options.  It may be that the response you think would be the most appropriate is not present. Remember that you are required to make a judgement about the options that are provided. For example, if the wrong lab result is provided to a patient, there are a number of steps that should be taken, including checking the patient is okay and re-assessing the patient’s treatment plan. The response ‘ask the patient if they are okay’, should still be judged as appropriate. It should not be judged as if this is the only action that was taken.

It may be that some options are appropriate in the short term (i.e. immediately addressing a wrongdoing) and some options are appropriate in the long term (i.e. discussing the implications of the wrongdoing after the event). Please consider the appropriateness of a response option irrelevant of the timeframe.

Marks are given based on how close an answer is to the correct answer. There is no negative marking and you should therefore attempt all questions.

The questions used in the SJT have been through a thorough review process and the correct answer keys have been determined using a panel of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the National School of Healthcare Science, who are able to provide insight into how a Trainee Scientist should be responding in these situations.


The sample test

You will have access to a sample test, via the Pearson VUE website, prior to completing the actual assessment. Use the sample test to familiarise yourself with the format, navigation and question types. This will include the desired response options for the sample questions and a rationale to explain why that is the correct rating.