Faculty Development Resources

Teaching Skills

Problem Based Learning

Writing Test Questions
Guidelines for Basic Science Item Content

Guidelines for Basic Science Item Content

• Test application of knowledge using experimental and clinical vignettes

• Focus items on key concepts and principles that are essential information (without access to references) for all examinees to understand

• Test material that is relevant to learning in clinical clerkships, postgraduate medical education, and beyond

• Avoid items that only require recall of isolated facts

• Avoid esoteric or interesting topics that are not essential

These two items were written to assess the same topic. We recommend that questions be written like the second item, "application of knowledge", not the first one.

Factual only
Application of knowledge

Acute intermittent porphyria is the result of a defect in the biosynthetic pathway for

A. collagen

B. corticosteroid

C. fatty acid

D. glucose

*E. heme

F. thyroxine (T4)

 

An otherwise healthy 33-year-old man has mild weakness and occasional episodes of steady, severe abdominal pain with some cramping but no diarrhea. One aunt and a cousin have had similar episodes. During an episode, his abdomen is distended, and bowel sounds are decreased. Neurologic examination shows mild weakness in the upper arms. These findings suggest

a defect in the biosynthetic pathway for

A. collagen

B. corticosteroid

C. fatty acid

D. glucose

*E. heme

F. thyroxine (T4)