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Exam questions

drh92 drh92 at aber.ac.uk
Fri May 13 09:13:37 EST 1994

In article <2qt7ol$9mp at threed.uchc.edu>, rajan at neuron.uchc.edu (T. V. Rajan, M.D., Ph.D.) says:
>In article <2qqtmu$c3p at charm.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu>
>ppappas at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Peter W Pappas) writes:
>> In article <2qqgt9$5r2 at threed.uchc.edu>,
>> T. V. Rajan, M.D., Ph.D. <rajan at neuron.uchc.edu> wrote:
>> >  I teach parasitology to medical students and one of the most
>> >difficult tasks is to set new multiple choice questions each year.  I
>> >wonder whether all of us who read this board should establish a
>> >compilation of exam questions that we can access and use.
>> >

As somone who can still remember his undergrad years fairly clearly, (I'm
2nd year PhD, no MSc), I can remember that multiple choice exams were 
almost universally regarded as an easy option, and since the staff seemed to
share our opinion, the multiple choice exam was only used in the first year 
exams, to make the marking of large numbers of scripts easier.

The system used was one of one question, four choices, with 1/3 of a mark
deducted for an incorrect answer. This is to eliminate the random choice score,
and also tends to scare the stupider undergrads a bit. 

Thereafter, my degree scheme used pure essay questions, of varying lengths.

It is also worthy of note that multiple choice exams encourage cheating by 
people looking over onto someone else's answer sheet. You can assess the
level of cheating to a reasonable degree by assessing how many WRONG
answers that are the same choice letter two people sitting adjacent to each
other share.

A study in the USA on medical students found that this form of cheating was 
alarmingly common, especially among able students who thought that they
might just have some problem getting a good grade as opposed to an average
one; ie a C instead of a B or an A.

This can be combatted by using several versions of the exam paper with the
answer options swapped around, and making sure that no one student is 
closer than about three metres to a person doing the exact same format of 
answer sheet to him. (Men cheat more than do women.)

Dan H.
drh92 at uk.ac.aber

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