Purpose: Admission to medical studies in Austria since academic year 2005–2006 has been regulated by admission tests. At the Medical University of Graz, an admission test focusing on secondary-school-level knowledge in natural sciences has been used for this purpose. The impact of this important change on dropout rates of female versus male students and older versus younger students is reported.
Method: All 2,860 students admitted to the human medicine diploma program at the Medical University of Graz from academic years 2002–2003 to 2008–2009 were included. Nonparametric and semiparametric survival analysis techniques were employed to compare cumulative probability of dropout between demographic groups.
Results: Cumulative probability of dropout was significantly reduced in students selected by active admission procedure versus those admitted openly (P < .0001). Relative hazard ratio of selected versus openly admitted students was only 0.145 (95% CI, 0.106–0.198). Among openly admitted students, but not for selected ones, the cumulative probabilities for dropout were higher for females (P < .0001) and for older students (P < .0001). Generally, dropout hazard is highest during the second year of study.
Conclusions: The introduction of admission testing significantly decreased the cumulative probability for dropout. In openly admitted students a significantly higher risk for dropout was found in female students and in older students, whereas no such effects can be detected after admission testing. Future research should focus on the sex dependence, with the aim of improving success rates among female applicants on the admission tests.