Given the importance of the English language for medical students, this study investigated the lexical characteristics in the English language references and tests of the Comprehensive Examination of Basic Medical Sciences (CEBMS) in Iran.
After the texts of the references were collected and their words were classified, the final texts were analyzed for lexical coverage, vocabulary size and vocabulary level. The lexical coverage of five CEBMS English language tests in the references was also surveyed.
Surveying 89,021 tokens (running words) consisting of 9,683 word types and 5,938 word families showed the lexical coverage of 6.27% for Coxhead's word list and 6.11% for Hsu's word list in the English language references of the CEBMS. The vocabulary in none of the five CEBMS English language tests had the 98% lexical coverage in the references. The vocabulary size in the five references included 5,938 word families, which was much lower than the threshold of at least 8,000 word families. Also, the vocabulary level of the five references was at Level 14.
Considering the results of this study, it seems that the English language references of the CEBMS do not satisfy medical students' needs including passing the English language test of the CEBMS and comprehending medical texts in English. Therefore, it is recommended that more English language references with higher lexical characteristics should be introduced by the Iranian Ministry of Health or at least by the relevant instructor.
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