|Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)|
An assessment tool that requires examinees to identify the one correct answer to a question. It consists of a stem that directly or indirectly poses a question and a set of distracters from which the answer is selected. In its simplest form, it comprises a stem statement followed by related statements which an examinee marks as either true or false. Another type asks examinees to select a correct or best answer from a number of options. In the 'extended matching' type test, a short vignette about a patient is presented and the examinee is asked to select the best response from approximately 15-20 choices. Such extended matching questions, a relatively new form of MCQ, reduce the potential for guessing to marginal terms. The test reliability is achieved by formulating a large number of well-constructed questions; this requires considerable skill. The great strength of the multiple-choice format is its ease and reliability of scoring. Checking answers is mechanical and requires neither interpretation nor special knowledge. Most commonly administered multiple-choice exams are scored by machine and provide statistical information about the exam, such as item difficulty and item-test correlations. For these reasons, multiple-choice questions are popular among instructors offering the advantage of allowing different kinds of questions, at various levels of difficulty. The computerized version of MCQ can cover a large area of knowledge in a short space of time. And poor questions which fail to discriminate between candidates of different ability can be easily identified. Using a greater number of questions is beneficial, as a larger set of questions provides better coverage of course material, and students' test scores are more reliable. The correct answers are pre-specified and hence marking in some respects is objective. A large number of examinees can be tested with relatively few resources. The major disadvantage to multiple-choice questions is that they are time-consuming to construct. However, once constructed, multiple-choice questions can be used again, in either original or modified form. Since these tests primarily measure knowledge only, they are now often being replaced with more performance-based assessment methods.