Multiple choice questiones as a tool for assessment in medical education

  • Edeghonghon Olayemi


Background Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. The goal of assessment in medical education is usually to support learning and ⁄ or to establish the competence of individual doctors; it helps the person being assessed identify and respond to his or her own learning needs. Assessments could be formative or summative; should be able to discriminate between good and poor candidates and have high fidelity. MCQ is one of the objective assessment methods. Methods For this review, a PuBMed online search was carried out for English language publications between 1990 and 2008 using the following keywords or their combinations: Assessment, multiple choice questions, medical education, and academic medicine. To identify additional publications, bibliographies of identified articles, relevant library journals and other publications were searched manually. Articles identified were checked for relevance. Results MCQs are considered an efficient and reliable testing tool and could yield valid information of clinical reasoning skills. Though some investigators claim they may not be ideal for the evaluation of higher-order thinking skills. Advantages and disadvantages of MCQs in medical education are discussed along with possible alternatives. Conclusion Though poorly written MCQs can encourage students to learn isolated facts by memorizing them, a well-constructed peer-reviewed multiple-choice question meets many of the educational requirements for an assessment method. The use of automation for grading and low costs makes it a viable assessment tool for use in a resource poor environment. To further extend the use of MCQs, teachers and item writers should be trained and the questions they write must be reviewed both before and after administration.

Keywords: Assessment, medical education, multiple choice questions

Author Biography

Edeghonghon Olayemi
Department of Haematology, University of Ghana Medical School

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-6569