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Module: A Selection of Multiple Choice Questions

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Strategies for writing and answering MCQs


Peter Devitt
Chairman, MCQ Panel of Examiners
Australian Medical Council
Head, Professorial Surgical Unit
Royal Adelaide Hospital


Sitting any examination can be a challenging business and preparation is always key. Knowing how to approach the examination and what strategies to use to answer questions goes a long way to easing the pressure. This tutorial aims to provide some insight into the difficulties faced by examiners in producing good quality questions. An understanding of this process will help the student with their approach to the examination itself.

In this digital era with demand for high accuracy in the assessment process, increased use is made of the multiple choice question (MCQ) format, delivered and marked by computer. The MCQ provides an exact mark and an exact overall score. Provided that the assessment method is reliable and the test valid, then it will withstand any rigorous challenge - but flaws exist in all examination formats.

This tutorial will focus on the MCQ; the challenges faced by those who construct the questions and the strategies used by those who answer them.

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