DO COGNITIVE FACTORS PREDICT STUDENT’S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN DENTAL SCHOOL?

The aim of this study was to determine which admission variable is the most predictive for academic performance during the whole undergraduate career. Two hundred and sixteen dental students were included, following five cohorts as they progressed through all the years of dental school (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) at in Santiago, Chile. The main variable of interest was the final grade of dental school (FGDS). Pearson´s Correlation was used to examine associations between admission tests, average of school grades score (ASGS), and student’s academic performance (FGDS) in dental school. A statistically significant positive relation (p < 0.05) was found for all admissions tests, ASGS and FGDS. ASGS showed the highest association, explaining 25%of the variance on academic success in FGDS. The strength of the explanatory power declines in the rest of the admissions variables, eighteen percent for average score of both Language Test (LT) and Maths Test (MT); fourteen percent for MT; seven percent for LT and Science Test (CT). This study demonstrated that cognitive variables related to admissions at the University Mayor School of Dentistry showed a positive correlation with students’ performance during the entire career, and not only during the first two years, being ASGS the best cognitive predictor for academic success. Nevertheless, there is still a percentage of students’ academic success that cannot be explained by cognitive factors.