Multiple choice questions with clinical case scenarios
Reading a stem and alternatives
- Read a question at the end of a stem first. It will give you direction and help you to focus while reading a stem.
- As you read a stem, try to find key information that will help you to answer a question. You can underline or highlight key terms in a stem or words that would modify the possibilities of a correct answer.
- Get a good understanding of a stem before you look at alternatives.
- Look for words that would change the meaning of a question if deleted or stated as an opposite (gain/loss, increase/decrease, early/late, etc.)
- Think about the correct answer before you look for it among alternatives.
- Don’t “add” to a question as you think it should be asked or read too much into a question. Also, don’t “add” to alternatives that are offered.
- Remember that you need to select not only the correct answer, but the best answer.
- Don’t give up and guess the answer to a question too early.
- If you don’t know an answer, you can use the method of elimination. Eliminate options by starting with the least likely to be correct. You can look at three choices instead of five and eliminate the least likely among the three options.
- Usually, you will get to the two closest options. Compare how these two options are different.
- If you have a clinical case in a stem of your question, think about it as you are examining a patient.
- Who is the patient? (demographic information, e. g. gender and age, occupation)
- What complaint does the patient present?
- What information you can find in the history of the patient (e.g. occupation, family history, travel)
- What symptoms does the patient present?
- Is a condition, acute or chronic?
- What are the results of a physical exam?
- Are the Lab results or X-ray, etc. mentioned? What is normal, and what is abnormal?
- Does the question ask you about diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, or the next step in managing the condition?
- Think about your answer. If you cannot find the best answer among alternatives, use the method of elimination
©UAMS Student Success Center/ Vuk, J. M.D., Ph.D. July/2015