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Educational benefits of writing multiple-choice questions (MCQs) with evidence-based explanation
  1. Faiz Tuma
  1. Department of Surgery, Central Michigan University College of Medicine East Campus, Saginaw, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Faiz Tuma, Central Michigan University College of Medicine East Campus, Saginaw, MI 48601, USA; faizt{at}

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Facilitating learning has been the focus of extensive research to identify efficient strategies and activities. Solving problems and learning through questions have been widely used to enhance active learning by exposure to inquiry or problem for which answers are needed. The process involves memory retrieval, understanding, application and critical thinking skills. However, writing questions involves all the above learning strategies at a deeper level and broader application. Writing is a commonly known tool of thinking and learning.1 2 Writing questions provides the additional learning skills of analysing, evaluating and creating knowledge.

The educational and learning value of writing questions is well established.3 4 Writing multiple-choice question (MCQ) style was significantly positively correlated with test grades.5 Cognitive strategies of writing questions about study topics result in better comprehension and test results.6 Teaching by encouraging learners to write questions as a form of inquiry is mostly done to enhance further learning. The benefits of this style of teaching are well discussed in the literature.7 However, this educational practice can be taken a step further by teaching to write formal questions in the format of well-structured MCQs with providing evidence-based explanations. MCQs are ubiquitously used in medical education for formative and summative assessment.8 The process of writing MCQs includes the challenges of creating vetted questions in higher-order learning activities. The learning benefits of writing formal MCQ style of questions with evidence-based explanations …

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  • Contributors FT contributed to conceptualisation, writing, editing, finalising, submitting and responsible for the entire content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.