Mastering exam technique
Peter Cantillon gives some tips on dealing with MCQs and SAQs
The multiple choice questionnaire (MCQ) has become one of the standard assessment methods in most medical schools over the past 30 years. MCQs were developed to address problems associated with traditional essay style testing. They are seen as a more objective test of students' knowledge than essays. This is because essays are marked by individuals who interpret a student's response against a standard answer format. So there is inevitably an element of personal judgment or subjectivity about such a marking scheme. MCQs, on the other hand, should have clear right and wrong answers and so should be free of any interpretation bias. They are generally regarded as being reliable and thus consistent and valid tests of students' knowledge and information recall.
MCQs have many advantages for teachers. Once designed they are easy to administer and mark. Most MCQs are answered on a card, which can be read by a computer