Applying for training

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Foundation Programme FAQs

Two juniors at work in the emergency department

Read our FAQs on applying to the foundation programme covering all the basics, submitting your application and information on the SJT (Situational Judgement Test) and EPM (Educational Performance Measure).

Key information

  • Basics of the Foundation Programme

    Key dates for the Foundation and Academic Foundation Programme

    The application window for applicants starting the Foundation Programme (FP) and Academic Foundation Programme (ACF) in July/August of the following year is open for two weeks only in September/October of the preceding year.

    In the July/August before the application window opens there is an eligibility application submission period (for overseas graduates and UK graduates who qualified more than two years prior to the start of the programme).

    UKFPO eligibility information is available online. Find out more

    UKFPO applicant information and guidance is available online.

    What is involved?

    From 2013, selection to the Foundation Programme has been based on:

    • an invigilated Situational Judgement Test (SJT) to assess aptitude for the FP, and 
    • an Educational Performance Measure (EPM) to reflect educational performance at medical school up to point of application to the FP

    The use of the SJT and EPM as part of the selection to the Foundation Programme was the result of a recommendation by the Improving Selection to the Foundation Programme (ISFP) project which was set up by the Medical Schools Council to look at ways of selecting medical students to the FP.

    When does the Foundation Programme start?

    The Foundation Programme starts in July/August of each year.

    All Foundation year 1 doctors in England, Wales and Scotland will be required to take part in a period of paid shadowing. In Northern Ireland, students already undertake a clinical assistantship as part of their final year.

    What will the selection to the Foundation Programme (FP) be based on?

    Candidates applying for FP will be given a score comprising of EPM (Education Performance Measure) score plus SJT (Situational Judgement Test) score. Candidates will receive up to 50 points as a result of their performance in the SJT, then a maximum of 50 EPM points will be awarded.

    EPM points are calculated from: performance at medical school (34–43 points); additional degrees (0-5 points); publications (0-2 points).

    What will the selection to the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) be based on?

    The selection to AFP will use candidates' EPM and local processes involving shortlisting and an interview. AFP applicants will be selected on the basis of the EPM, additional information questions that form a part of the academic application form, for example requesting a CV, and interview by each academic deanery.

    Each deanery then ranks their applicants and allocates academic jobs on the basis of their individual scores. Although SJT scores will not be used to calculate the AFP ranking score, all AFP offers are subject to a satisfactory SJT score.


  • Application details


    • Applicants for AFP are urged to make sure they meet all the deadlines and submit their application on time as the process is longer than the Foundation Programme application.
    • Applicants are encouraged to check their Oriel online accounts regularly as the receipt of emails is not always guaranteed.

    What happens after submitting my AFP application?

    After submitting your AFP, each Academic Unit of Application (AUoA) assesses the application using their own local criteria for shortlisting. Successful AFP applicants are notified by email and receive offers from mid January to mid February. Local processes undertaken by AUoAs do not form part of the national application process but are aligned with the national process and use the same agreed timeline. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a local interview.  Interviews vary and each AUoA will determine how shortlisting and interviews are to be scored.

    What happens if I am unsuccessful with my AFP application?

    You will be placed on an AFP reserve list. After the initial offers are accepted or declined, a cascade process will run whereby AUoAs will offer any unfilled places to the next highest scoring applicant on their reserve lists. If you do not receive an AFP offer or decline any offer(s), you will be automatically included in the FP allocation.

    How many references do I need to provide as part of my FP application?

    You are required to provide details of two referees – one academic and one clinical. Please note that the references have no bearing on your application. They are collected on behalf of your employer as part of pre-employment checks.

    Your referees will be sent an email asking them to complete a structured online reference.

    Note: The UKFPO cannot accept references by fax or post or email. They must be submitted via Oriel during the reference period. 

    What happens after submitting my FP application?

    All candidates are notified by email when they can log on to the Oriel to see their overall score and the Unit of application (UoA) allocated to them. FP applicants on the primary list allocation are informed of allocation to Foundation School result by mid March. SJT and total application scores are viewable to applicants on Oriel.

    Applicants who have been allocated to a UoA as part of the primary list will be informed of how to rank groups/programmes within the timeline. Applicants are required to preference groups and/or individual programmes on Oriel in accordance with local foundation school timelines.

    What happens if I have not been allocated a UoA?

    If you are not on the primary list of successful candidates, you will be placed on a reserve list. Reserve list applicants will be allocated to any vacancies that arise since the last allocation. The highest scoring reserve list applicants will be allocated to vacancies first. 

  • SJT - Situational Judgement Test

    What is a Situational Judgement Test?

    The SJT is an invigilated test in exam conditions which has replaced the 'white space' application form questions used in previous years. The test is designed to assess the professional attributes expected of a foundation doctor according to the person specification for the Foundation Programme and these include:

    1. Commitment to professionalism
    2. Coping with pressure
    3. Effective communication
    4. Learning and professional development
    5. Organisation and planning
    6. Patient focus
    7. Problem solving and decision-making
    8. Self-awareness and insight
    9. Working effectively as part of a team

    The format consists of 70 questions that students have to take in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

    The SJT is not something students can revise for, but these are skills and attributes that they should exhibit, and that they will have been made aware of throughout their time at medical school.

    See your options if have an exceptionally low score on the SJT

    How can I prepare for the SJT?

    Although revision is not necessary, we would advise students not to go into the test 'cold' and to be aware of what the test consists of.

    The BMA Careers has developed an e-learning module to offer practical guidance to prepare effectively for the test. The module is free for BMA members but you will need to register with BMJ Learning by entering your BMA membership number.

    Complete the SJT e-learning module to help you prepare

    Where can I find more information on the SJT?

    There is a practice paper and answer sheet available on the UKFPO website to help you familiarise yourself with the format of the test and the type of questions you will encounter.

    We would encourage you to read the UKFPO SJT monograph which includes the research evidence for what the SJT is testing and tips around how to approach the SJT. 

    What happens if I am suddenly and severely unwell during the SJT?

    If you taken severely and suddenly unwell during the SJT, you MUST ALERT an invigilator AT THE TIME and subject to their decision, you will be asked to leave the test hall and submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim form with supporting medical evidence.

    If you continue the SJT despite being severely and suddenly unwell (i.e. you do not inform the invigilator straight away), your sheet will be marked and no extra time will be permitted.


  • EPM - Educational Performance Measure

    What is the EPM?

    The Educational Performance Measure (EPM) is a measure of clinical and non-clinical skills, knowledge and performance up to the point of application.

    The EPM score comprises the following elements:

    1. medical school performance in deciles (34-43 points)
    2. additional degrees (0-5 points)
    3. academic achievements (0-2 points)

    How do I find out my EPM?

    Your medical school performance score will be calculated by your medical school. The score will be divided into 10 equal groups (deciles) based on performance in a number of assessments.

    If you are graduating from a UK medical school, the score you achieve from your medical school performance will be supplied by your medical school and uploaded on to the online Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS).

    With regard to educational achievements, there are two parts to this:

    1. additional degrees and
    2. other educational achievements.

    What are other educational achievements?

    There are two parts to educational achievements: additional degrees worth up to a maximum of five points and publications worth up to a maximum of two points.

    You can gain a maximum of seven points in this section. Please note that you must complete all of the required information and upload evidence to support your achievement(s) in each of the categories or you won't be allocated any points.

    What is an additional degree?

    An additional degree is in addition to your primary medical degree that you either have or for which you are currently studying.

    Please note that postgraduate certificates (such as a PGCE) or diplomas do not count. It is important to note that you can only be awarded points for a degree:

    1. if the degree and if appropriate, the degree classification has been ratified by the Examination Board before you submit your application, and
    2. you can submit the required evidence.

    How do I get a point for publication?

    In order to get a point for a publication, your work must have been published and must have a PubMed ID number (PMID). If there is no PMID, you will NOT be awarded the point.

    Please note that DOI, ISBN or PCMID numbers are not sufficient.


    How does the EPM and the SJT weighting work?

    The EPM points and SJT points are combined and the combined score is used to rank all applicants in order to determine allocation.

    Despite the SJT being on a longer scale to the EPM (0.00 – 50.00 versus 34-50), the scaling process for the SJT takes into account the distribution of the EPM to ensure the distributions of each set of scores are similar. Therefore each measure exerts a similar weight on the total score and the rank awarded.