Comparative assessment in pharmacology multiple choice questions versus essay with focus on gender differences

M. R.S.M. Pai, N. Sanji, P. G. Pai, S. Kotian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Assessment is a driver of innovation and changes in education. In this study, medical student performances in pharmacology short essay questions (SEQ) and multiple choice questions (MCQ) were assessed and compared and gender differences were also explored. Methods: A total of 712 second year students with records of scores in SEQ and MCQ papers were analyzed. The performances of students who scored > 60% marks in theory papers were compared with those who scored > 60% marks in MCQ and vice versa. Gender differences in performances were also studied. Statistical analysis was done using McNemar, Chi-Square and Pearson's co-efficient of correlation. P values < 0.05 were considered to be significant. Results: The analysis showed that the probability of students scoring > 60% marks in SEQ papers was higher when they had scored > 60% marks in MCQ papers (P < 0.001). Their SEQ performance positively correlated with their MCQ performance (r= 0.768, r= 0.599 and r=0.767 for the first, second and third tests respectively). Females scored higher than males in all tests. Conclusion: Literature indicates that MCQ as an assessment tool is debatable. This study indicates: performance in MCQ is an effective tool to predict SEQ paper performance; and correlates with global data on better performances by female counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2515-2520
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17-12-2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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