Evaluating the assessment of essay type questions in the basic medical sciences
Background: Amongst the contemporary methods of assessment of examinations in the Basic Medical Sciences, the essay type method is the most subjective as it relies mainly on the judgment of an individual assessor and question sampling. Examiners therefore resort to the close system of marking of theory papers in professional examinations to bring most of the grades to the middle of the score line, thereby reducing the impact of an individual assessor and segment on the overall outcome.
Aim: To look at the merits and demerits of the 'Open' and 'Closed' Systems of marking of essay type questions in its present form and recommend modalities for an appropriate marking scheme for the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences.
Methodology: We examined the merits and demerits of the closed and open systems of assessment of essay type questions and viva voce in professional exams in the Basic Medical Sciences together with the challenges of present day Medical Education.
Result: The result showed that the closed system of marking in its current form is not discriminatory enough to allow for academic excellence and influence the weeding process.
Conclusion: We recommend a semi-closed or modified closed system of marking which ensures a moderate influence of the different components of a Professional examination on the final outcome while maintaining some discriminatory power. A marking scheme for this system is also proposed.
Keywords: Assessor, Subjective, Grades, Professional, Scheme, Discriminatory