Purpose: Medical school admissions committees are increasingly considering noncognitive measures like emotional intelligence (EI) in evaluating potential applicants. This study explored whether scores on an EI abilities test at admissions predicted future academic performance in medical school to determine whether EI could be used in making admissions decisions.
Method: The authors invited all University of Ottawa medical school applicants offered an interview in 2006 and 2007 to complete the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso EI Test (MSCEIT) at the time of their interview (105 and 101, respectively), then again at matriculation (120 and 106, respectively). To determine predictive validity, they correlated MSCEIT scores to scores on written examinations and objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) administered during the four-year program. They also correlated MSCEIT scores to the number of nominations for excellence in clinical performance and failures recorded over the four years.
Results: The authors found no significant correlations between MSCEIT scores and written examination scores or number of failures. The correlations between MSCEIT scores and total OSCE scores ranged from 0.01 to 0.35; only MSCEIT scores at matriculation and OSCE year 4 scores for the 2007 cohort were significantly correlated. Correlations between MSCEIT scores and clinical nominations were low (range 0.12–0.28); only the correlation between MSCEIT scores at matriculation and number of clinical nominations for the 2007 cohort were statistically significant.
Conclusions: EI, as measured by an abilities test at admissions, does not appear to reliably predict future academic performance. Future studies should define the role of EI in admissions decisions.