Medical Student Performance Evaluation

A Guide to the Preparation of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

The format and composition for the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) for The Pennsylvania State College of Medicine conforms to the guidelines established by the AAMC Dean’s Letter Advisory Committee, 2002.

The MSPE is a comprehensive assessment, composed on behalf of the medical school faculty, regarding a student’s performance, as compared to his/her peers, in achieving the educational objectives of the medical school curriculum. The MSPE is neither a letter of recommendation nor the school’s prediction of the student’s future performance in a residency program.

Name and Purpose

The name of the dean’s letter has been changed, effective immediately, to Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) in order to reflect its purpose as an evaluation of a medical student’s performance (rather than a recommendation or prediction of future performance). The MSPE describes, in a sequential manner, a student’s performance, as compared to that of his/her peers, through three full years of medical school and, as much as possible, the fourth year. The MSPE includes an assessment of both the student’s academic performance and professional attributes.


Final authority for composing the MSPE, as an institutional assessment composed on behalf of the medical school faculty, should rest with a professional person, at the faculty level in the institution, who has access to all relevant evaluation data for all students. Ideally, the process by which the MSPE is composed should include a personal meeting with each student.


The MSPE contains six sections:

  1. Identifying Information
    • Student’s legal name.
    • Name and location of the medical school.
  2. Unique Characteristics
    This section includes a brief statement about the unique characteristics of the student, as follows:

    • Information about special considerations, including any distinguishing characteristics exhibited by the student in medical school (e.g., demonstrated leadership and research abilities, participation in community service activities).
    • Information about any significant challenges or hardships encountered by the student during medical school.
  3. Academic History

    • The month and year of the student’s initial matriculation in, and expected graduation from, medical school.
    • Name and location of the medical school.
    • Information about the student’s prior, current, or expected enrollment in, and the month and year of the student’s expected graduation from, dual, joint, or combined degree programs.
    • Information, based upon school-specific policies, of coursework that the student was required to repeat or otherwise remediate during the student’s medical educator.
    • Information, based on school-specific policies, of any adverse action(s) imposed on the student by the medical school or its parent institution.
  4. Academic Progress This section includes information about the student’s academic performance and professional attributed in preclinical/basic science coursework and core clinical and elective rotations, as follows:
    • Narrative information regarding the student’s overall (rather than course-specific) performance in the preclinical/basic science curriculum.
    • Narrative information regarding the student’s overall performance on each core clinical clerkship and elective rotation completed to date, with a focus on summative, rather than formative, comments by clerkship/elective directors. This information should be provided in the chronological order in which the student completed each core clinical clerkship and elective rotation. Information should be provided about the location of any away┬Ł elective rotations.
    • Narrative information about the student’s level of initiative, enthusiasm, and ability to self-start in all curricular components.
    • An assessment of the student’s compatibility with faculty members, peers, other members of the health care team, and patients during all curricular components.
  5. Summary
    This section includes a summative assessment, based upon the school’s evaluation system, of the student’s comparative performance in medical school, relative to his/her peers, including information about any school-specific categories used in differentiating among levels of student performance. Penn State College of Medicine uses the following summative assessment of comparative performance relative to peers:Superior 5%
    Outstanding 25%
    Excellent 50%
    Very Good 20%
  6. Appendices
    A graphic representation of the student’s performance, relative to his/her peers, in each core third-year clinical clerkship.


The MSPE is completed upon the successful completion of all core clinical clerkships (Family Medicine, Primary Care Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery) in the third year (or their institutional equivalents).

Length and Format

The MSPE should be a two-to-three page, single-spaced, appropriately formatted document, with five appendices. The MSPE should be typed, single-spaced, in New Times Roman, 12-point font with a one-inch margin on each side.

Student review

The MSPE, as an institutional assessment, should be considered a component of the students’ academic record and, thus, be available for a student’s review. The student should be permitted to correct factual errors in the MSPE, but not to revise evaluative statements in the MSPE.

Mode of delivery

The MSPE will be delivered via ERAS in a computer file compatible with an Internet-based delivery system.

Release date

The MSPE release date will continue to be October 1.

Information modified for The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine from the AAMC’s A Guide to the Preparation of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation

Histogram (Final Grade Distribution Bar Graph)