After a steady increase between 1985 and 1997, the overall performance of postgraduate students taking the Part 1 examination of the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom, MRCP (UK), which is a part of higher specialist training, showed a decline from 1997 until 2001. Performance on specific exam questions that were repeated across the years was 14.1% lower in 2001 than in 1996.The causes of this decline are not obvious:
"The 'dog-leg' in performance [in] 1997 was not an artefact of changed Examination Regulations, mix of UK and overseas candidates, or time from qualification until taking the Examination", write the authors. "Study 2 confirmed that performance in 2001 was significantly worse than in 1996, that the poorer performance was found in graduates of UK medical schools, and that candidates passing the Examination in 2001 performed less well than those passing in 1996."Here are some data on the ethnic composition of medical doctors in the UK in recent decades.