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The benefit of diverse questions

An assessment’s effectiveness is fundamentally determined by its questions. Having a broad range of question styles allows you to cater to various learning objectives. It allows measurement of factual recall, application of knowledge, problem-solving skills and the capacity for nuanced understanding.

With our eSystem exam software, we have a diverse range of question styles. Enabling the creation of examinations that go beyond simple multiple-choice.  Our comprehensive offering includes multiple answer, extended matching, short answer, very short answer, hot spot, drag and drop, essay, OSCE and more.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the less common question styles and assess their advantages in the context of medical education.

Multiple Answer Question style

Multiple-answer questions, also known as multiple correct answer questions, are similar to multiple choice however, instead of having one correct answer, there are multiple correct options. These can be particularly useful in medical education since a candidate needs to identify all correct answers to the question, they typically need a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Compared to a single-answer multiple choice, the multiple-answer format tests a deeper understanding of the subject matter whilst reducing the likelihood of guessing the correct answer.

Furthermore, they can be useful in assessing clinical decision-making skills. In the medical field, decisions are rarely binary. Multiple-answer questions can simulate the intricacies of real-world scenarios, encouraging students to develop and apply clinical decision-making skills by recognising multiple valid aspects in a given situation.

However, as with other question types, careful consideration of the answer choices will be vital to the success of the question.

To see how this question works within the eSystem, watch our short video.

Drag and Drop Questions

A drag and drop exam question is a type of question where candidates are presented with a set of options and are required to interact with them by dragging and dropping them into the correct area.

Ideal for labelling diagrams, they can be particularly useful in medical education. Educators can use medical images such as x-rays and ask candidates to correctly identify an area of concern for example. They allow a greater level of flexibility and interactivity in assessment. They are also good for testing a student’s ability to understand and manipulate spatial configurations, which is crucial in fields such as surgery, radiology, and anatomy.

See how this works in practice by watching our drag and drop video.

Short Case Question Style

Short case exams typically consist of a scenario followed by a series of sequential questions. In medical education, a clinical short case can allow educators to build upon a clinical context and require candidates to analyse, diagnose and formulate a management plan all within the given timeframe. It can be an effective way of not only testing a candidate’s knowledge but also their decision-making skills in a given clinical scenario.

It’s easy to create a short case exam with the eSystem. You simply select the short case question style, add your scenario and then add your additional questions. You can either add a new question directly into the short case or add an existing question from your question bank. Furthermore, it’s possible to have a mix of different question styles within the short case. (For example, your case could consist of a mix of MCQ, hot spot, and written answer questions).

Hot Spot Questions

A hot spot question style assesses a student’s ability to identify a specific area or location on an image or diagram.

When used in medical education, the image could be a medical illustration, radiograph, histological slide, or any visual representation relevant to the subject matter.  The candidate is then asked to identify a specific “hot spot” on the image that corresponds to the question asked.

With the eSystem, you have the flexibility to structure hot spot questions according to your preferences. You can opt for a single hot spot question with one hot spot or choose a single hot spot question that encompasses multiple hot spots. Additionally, you can create multiple questions within one hot spot question, where each question may feature either a single hotspot or multiple hot spot areas. See how this works in practice in our short video: how to create a hot spot question.

Very Short Answer Questions

This question style is similar to short answer questions (SAQs), in that a candidate is required to type their own response to the question (rather than pick from a list of pre-defined answers in multiple choice questions, such as single best answer (SBA)). However, the key distinction lies in the brevity of the response, which is typically limited to 2-3 words. The advantage of a VSA over SAQs is that it offers the ability for automatic marking which can dramatically speed up the marking process.  Read our blog to SBA or VSA? for more on the nuances between these question styles.

Create better exams with advanced question styles

Having a diverse selection of question styles to choose from allows assessors to evaluate different areas of candidates’ knowledge and skills. For instance, Multiple choice questions are good for testing factual recall whereas short answer and written questions can test a deeper understanding of a subject matter. Incorporating visual elements using questions such as hot spot and drag and drop, assesses students’ capacity to interpret imagery, a crucial skill in fields like medical education where understanding medical imaging is paramount.

Ultimately, a well-rounded selection of question styles not only enhances the validity and reliability of online exams but also elevates the overall quality enabling a more robust evaluation of students’ competencies.

Get in touch

If you would like to explore the possibilities that the eSystem can offer your assessment processes, get in touch. Call our sales team on +44 (0) 1223 851703 or email