, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 263-269
Date: 27 Nov 2010

Assessment of anatomical knowledge for clinical practice: perceptions of clinicians and students

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



In anatomy education, assessment may be done by written, practical or oral methods. These are used to varying degrees in UK medical schools with no consensus on the preferred approach. The purpose of this article is to highlight changes to methods of anatomical knowledge assessment utilised in medical schools since the early 1990s and to present recommended methods of assessment according to the level of medical training.


Medical students, trainees and specialists in the London (UK) area were surveyed to: (1) identify methods experienced in anatomy education at medical school and (2) gather recommendations. Medical student, trainee and specialist responses were compared using non-parametric tests.


Two hundred and twenty-eight individuals responded to the survey giving a response rate of 53%. Subjects who graduated before 2005 were assessed significantly more frequently by practical (94.2 vs. 33.3%) and oral (84.5 vs. 13.1%) methods than those whose graduation year was 2005 or later. Subjects whose graduation year was 2005 or later were assessed significantly more frequently by written methods, such as EMQs than those whose graduation was before 2005 (68.7 vs. 25.2%). Practical examination was identified as the most recommended method of assessment in anatomy education by medical students (59.1%), trainees (all stages combined; 54.2%) and specialists (51.7%).


Practical assessment is recommended over written and oral methods for the assessment of anatomical knowledge. A formal evaluation of the relative benefits and limitations of available assessment tools is required.