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Pak J Med Sci. 2014 Jan;30(1):3-6. doi: 10.12669/pjms.301.4458.

Evaluation of Multiple Choice and Short Essay Question items in Basic Medical Sciences.

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Dr. Mukhtiar Baig, PhD, MHPE, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, Head of Assessment Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Rabigh, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Syeda Kauser Ali, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Educational evelopment, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.
Dr. Sobia Ali, MHPE, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Education, Liaquat National Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan.
Ms. Nighat Huda, MS in Ed, Associate Professor, Medical Education Department Bahria University Medical & Dental College, Karachi, Pakistan.



To evaluate Multiple Choice and Short Essay Question items in Basic Medical Sciences by determining item writing flaws (IWFs) of MCQs along with cognitive level of each item in both methods.


This analytical study evaluated the quality of the assessment tools used for the first batch in a newly established medical college in Karachi, Pakistan. First and sixth module assessment tools in Biochemistry during 2009-2010 were analyzed. Cognitive level of MCQs and SEQs, were noted and MCQ item writing flaws were also evaluated.


A total of 36 SEQs and 150 MCQs of four items were analyzed. The cognitive level of 83.33% of SEQs was at recall level while remaining 16.67% were assessing interpretation of data. Seventy six percent of the MCQs were at recall level while remaining 24% were at the interpretation. Regarding IWFs, 69 IWFs were found in 150 MCQs. The commonest among them were implausible distracters (30.43%), unfocused stem (27.54%) and unnecessary information in the stem (24.64%).


There is a need to review the quality including the content of assessment tools. A structured faculty development program is recommended for developing improved assessment tools that align with learning outcomes and measure competency of medical students.


Assessment; Item analysis; MCQ; SEQ

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