Multiple Choice Questions are a brand of assessment that has been incorporated into many fields including the Medical Education. Different institutions make use of different policies regarding how MCQs should operate and thus the students need to be aware about what there institutional policies regarding marking MCQs.
Usually, an MCQ is given either 1 minutes or 2 minutes depending on the number of exam questions and sometimes it can be even lesser depending on the level at which the assessment is being done. The number of MCQs also will vary between institutions and usually a minimum of 60 MCQs can be seen in exams in Medical Schools.
The marking of the MCQ is done on a separate sheet usually using a ballpoint pen as the answer sheets are corrected by electronic optical recognition devices which recognise ink. Apart from the question paper and the marking sheet, the students will be provided by an extra set of papers to do sketching or to do calculations. In certain exams, the students are allowed to take in text books and are known as ‘open book system’ but most often this is done at essay exams than the MCQ.
When marking answers, be vigilant about the nature of the MCQ as some MCQ types will have a single best response and the others can have more than one answer.
Now, what can be done to avoid mistakes and achieve most from a MCQ exam?
1. Practice answering sample MCQs and try to work within the given time period.
2. Read the instructions very carefully and mark accordingly.
3. Use a pencil to make the preliminary marking and complete the final marking using a ballpoint pen.
4. Answer the relatively easy questions first or focus attention on expert areas before trying to answer the difficult parts of the paper.
5. Read the stem very carefully and underline the keywords that would be valuable in arriving at an answer.
6. Try to arrive at the answer in mind before looking at the given answers as this will re-confirm your answer.
7. If a direct answer cannot be obtained, try to arrive at the correct answer by exclusion as this would also be valid in the clinical setting.
8. Do not try to follow patterns and mark by guessing as it can do more damage than good to the final result.
9. Be on the lookout for clues which can facilitate at arriving at a correct answer.
10. Double check the answers.
11. Write your index number at the top of the answer sheet.
These guidelines are general to any MCQ paper and would facilitate the task of minimizing the errors which can occur at these times.