Developing Multiple-Choice Questions for Anatomy Examinations

  • Andrew R. ThompsonEmail author
  • Polly R. Husmann


Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) can be an efficient and reliable way to assess student learning, but they are difficult and time consuming to construct. When developing an MCQ, one must avoid common flaws (e.g., negative phrasing or grammatical cues) that can lead to poor question performance. At the same time, the question must evaluate content that is driven by course and/or session learning objectives. Targeting specific cognitive levels with questions can be achieved using Bloom’s taxonomy, both on written and laboratory examinations. Along with these general guidelines, anatomy educators teaching in healthcare fields face additional challenges when it comes to item construction, such as creating a question stem and answer options that are plausible and highlight clinically relevant information. Following an examination, it is critical that psychometric data on question performance is considered to help highlight overlooked flaws or questions that were not written clearly. This chapter will guide the reader through all the necessary steps from the initial development of a question to interpreting its performance on an examination. While becoming a good question writer takes time and practice, the content outlined in this chapter will provide a solid foundation that can be built upon with practical experience.


Item writing Assessment Item analysis Practical examinations Discrimination index 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical EducationUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Anatomy and Cell BiologyIndiana University School of MedicineBloomingtonUSA

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