Linsenmeyer M, Ridpath L. Nelson-Denny Reading Test Scores as a Predictor of Student Success in Osteopathic Medical Education. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2019;119(3):189–197. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2019.030.
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Reading skills are crucial in medical school, where students are expected to absorb an onslaught of new and complex material. Studies on reading assessment in osteopathic medical education are lacking.
To address gaps in the literature related to reading assessment and to investigate the correlation of the Nelson-Denny Reading Test with various performance indicators in osteopathic medical education.
The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine administered the Nelson-Denny Reading Test to first- and second-year students between 2015 and 2017. Raw scores were translated into the percentile rank, scale score, grade equivalent score, and stanine score based on guidelines supplied with the Nelson-Denny Reading Test. These translated scores were compared with Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, first- and second-year performance on course examinations, Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA) Level 1 scores, and scores provided in a 2002 study by Haught and Walls.
A total of 623 students took the first-year Nelson-Denny Reading Test, and 408 took both the first- and second-year Nelson-Denny Reading Test. Findings showed a large correlation between the Nelson-Denny Reading Test and the verbal reasoning section (r=0.56 for the class of 2020 and 0.46 for the class of 2021) of the old MCAT (before 2015) and the reasoning skills section (r=0.42 for the class of 2020 and 0.49 for the class of 2021) of the new MCAT (released in 2015). There were no correlations with first- and second-year course examination scores or COMLEX-USA Level 1 scores. The Nelson-Denny Reading Test scores reported by Haught and Walls for medical students and health professional students were slightly higher than those found for osteopathic medical students in this study.
The reasoning skills section of the new MCAT could serve as a good proxy for a reading test. There were no correlations between the Nelson-Denny Reading Test and performance in the first 2 years of medical school or COMLEX-USA Level 1 performance. Further research can strengthen the findings and determine whether correlations exist with clinical performance.
a Some students took both the old (before 2015) and new (2015 update) versions of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Abbreviation: WVSOM, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
a The P value is noted in parentheses next to each correlation. Correlations were statistically significant at P≤.01.
b Medium to large correlation of 0.30 to 0.49.14
Abbreviations: MCAT, Medical College Admission Test; WVSOM, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
c Large to very large correlation of ≥0.50.14
Abbreviations: COMLEX-USA, Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA; WVSOM, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
a Health professionals included students in medicine, dentistry, and physical therapy and medical interns.
b “College 16” refers to 4-year college/university norms from the Nelson-Denny Reading Test: Manual for Scoring and Interpretation, Forms G & H.11
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