• Vol. 34 No. 8, 483–485
  • 15 September 2005

Standards Medical Students Set for Themselves when Preparing for the Final MBBS Examination



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Introduction: Determining whether the standard of an examination is appropriate is a difficult task. It is important for examiners and examinees to be aware of the standard of the examination. We compared the examination standards perceived by medical students with that of the examiners. Materials and Methods: A descriptive comparative study was carried out on a sample of final-year medical students from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. All final-year students of a given year of intake were requested to devise true/false type, negatively marked, 5-response multiple-choice questions at a standard they thought suitable for students sitting the final MBBS examination in Paediatrics. Ambiguous and wrongly worded questions were excluded. A “mock” multiple-choice question paper of randomly selected student generated multiple-choice questions was held a fortnight prior to the final paediatric examination. The students were unaware that the multiple-choice questions in the “mock” examination had been devised by their peers. Marks obtained at the “mock” and final examinations were compared and the difficulty index was calculated for both papers. Results: Correlation between marks obtained at the 2 multiple-choice question papers was moderate (r = 0.67) and significant (P <0.01). The mean marks for the “mock” examination, 47.1% [standard deviation (SD) ±9.2], and for the final examination, 58.9% (SD ±8.7), showed a statistically significant difference (P <0.0001). Conclusion: This study showed that student-set multiple-choice questions correlated significantly with those of the university but were of a tougher standard.

The standard of the examination is all-important to the examinee. However, the setting of standards is often arbitrary and without guidelines. 1 Even equally experienced, like-minded examiners disagree on the delineation between passing and failing due to the uncertain standard of the examination. No examination can fulfil its objectives without the examiners and examinees both agreeing on the standard. An important component of medical education is setting, maintaining and reassessing standards periodically.

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