Our selection process

Selection procedure

The programme strives to ensure that we uphold the values of equality and inclusivity at all times, including in our selection process. For this reason, our procedure is designed to actively encourage those from diverse backgrounds to apply and is focused on an individual's overall potential to become an outstanding clinical psychologist rather than over-emphasising existing knowledge and skills.

If due to disability you need support to access our selection procedure or feel that any aspect of our process would put you at a disadvantage, we will work with you to mitigate these issues and ensure that you are given a fair opportunity to show your potential.


Why do we use a shortlisting test?

We collaborate with the Lancaster University Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme with regard to our short-listing screening procedures. All candidates who are eligible will be invited to take part in our screening procedure. Screening will take place in February 2021, dates will be published on our University website as soon as they are available. Many applicants to our programme are fortunate enough to have had access to extensive education and employment/experience opportunities. However, some individuals have not had these privileges, and may never have, but have significant potential and are well suited to the programme. As we want everyone to be assessed on a fair basis, we use a short-listing test which examines potential rather than looking only at the application which emphasises experience. Evidence also shows that application forms on their own are poor predictors of academic and job performance. Our approach means using short-listing tests which have substantial evidence to indicate they predict performance on both the programme and in a complex job role once qualified.

This component of our screening process uses an online general mental ability (GMA) test. This approach is widely used, for example, by other healthcare professions with graduate entry training programmes, as it is a strong predictor of performance in complex or intellectually challenging roles. The GMA test for 2021 will be a verbal and deductive reasoning test.

How the shortlisting works

Candidates will be invited to take the online GMA test during a time window of two weeks, at a time and place convenient to them. Once arranged, it is not possible for online testing to take place outside of this window.

In the Plymouth selection process, in order to confirm invitation to interview, the test results are considered together with information about experience and references taken from the candidate's application. Further knowledge of candidates and their potential for doctoral level training is gained from information gathered at our Selection Event.

Practising the shortlisting test

Practising the tests beforehand can help ensure that all applicants, regardless of background, can demonstrate their ability.

Please visit the SHL website to complete their practice tests – you only need to do the verbal and deductive reasoning tests for the Plymouth programme. SHL practice tests are only examples of the type of questions you will be given and do not indicate the difficulty level, as this changes dynamically in the live test based on your responses. The live test system has some visual differences from the practice tests and includes additional support to allow for zooming and changing text/background colours. A wide variety of practice tests from other sources are available online, many of which are free of charge.

Important: The deductive reasoning test is a new interactive version which has recently been released by SHL and no practice test is currently available on their site. However, practice questions are provided in the live test for you to familiarise yourself with the style of questions and how to interact with the test. It is very important you take the opportunity to do these practice questions before trying to complete the test itself.

Ability tests are validated, objective assessments that have been shown to be strong predictors of performance in a wider variety of roles, this means that people who do better on ability tests tend to do better in the roles. You will be asked to complete these tests as part of the selection process. You will receive an invite to complete these tests. We expect high standards of professional behaviour and that you will complete all assessments yourself and are answering openly and honestly.


Selection event

Our selection process may be subject to change for our 2021 round of selection, our procedure will be confirmed in September 2020. The process may be conducted remotely or face to face.

There are two parts to the selection event:

A formal interview is designed to explore candidates' strengths. Panels will include members of the course team, representatives from our Plymouth Consultative Group and practising clinical psychologists drawn from services across Devon and Cornwall. As part of the range of six interview questions, candidates will be invited to read and be prepared to discuss material sent prior to interview: these may include a clinical or research paper, a journal article, a research and/or clinical scenario. There will be a focus on reflectivity, reflexivity, formulation, values and commitment to service user involvement. A second interview or a task will comprise the second part of the process for each candidate depending on restrictions that may be in place.

The selection process takes place over two days, with each candidate joining us for part of one day. Information about the programme is available on the interview days and current trainees are present throughout the interview days to consult with candidates.

Candidates provide information regarding preferences of location between Cornwall and Plymouth and South Devon. We work together with our training partners to consider preferences however your placement location preferences cannot be guaranteed, and we ask you to take this into consideration when you apply for this course. You will be given opportunities to discuss this thoroughly with the team and trainees currently in all locations. Candidates are informed when the selection process is completed and are allocated their placement base at this time. 

Disclosure and barring checks

All offers of a place on the doctoral programme are dependent on satisfactory references, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health checks.

Safer recruitment 

This programme is committed to safer recruitment and principles are embedded into our shortlisting and selection processes to ensure a safe and positive environment for service users and the workforce in health settings.