(and a note about "Fitness to Practise")
Informal (formative) assessments are held at several points during the first year, to provide feedback to you and your tutors on your (and our) progress. Formal (summative) University examinations take place at the end of the first and second years, and again during the final (fourth) year. In the third year, summative assessments take place towards the end of each eight-week attachment to a clinical specialty.
The summative assessments are a formal requirement, and you must pass them in order to progress through the course. They include written (including computer-based) examinations and clinical (i.e. practical) examinations, and course work such as extended essays, poster presentations, and log-books of clinical experience. Your performance (for example, your day-to-day work on the wards) during clinical rotations is also separately assessed and must be deemed satisfactory in order for you to progress with the course. Throughout the course, your tutors will report on their view of your progress: these reports will be available for you to see and discuss, and will form part of your overall assessment.
Fitness to practise
The medical school has to ensure that its graduates are fit to practise medicine. Assessment of students throughout the course will address this issue. "Fitness to practise" involves more than academic competence: it also requires a professional attitude towards patients and colleagues, an ability to communicate with patients and gain their trust, and an ability to cope with the various emotional pressures of clinical contact. The Oxford framework of small-group teaching, and especially of tutorial teaching, will help to develop these skills and attitudes, and tutors will do everything they can to support you through the process of adjusting to the demands of clinical practice. However, sometimes it happens that students simply cannot make the personal adjustments needed, and in that case it may be necessary to prevent them from continuing on the course. There is so much academic and pastoral support available in Oxford that this outcome is very rare; but you should be aware that your qualifying as a doctor on this course depends on more than academic success.