Mastering Question Analysis for Exam Success
Scott Giles PT, DPT, MBA
Today we're diving deep into the world of question analysis, a critical but often overlooked aspect of exam preparation.
Candidates who are exposed to numerous sample examinations have several distinct opportunities that otherwise may not be available.
- Assess their current level of preparedness prior to the actual examination
- Refine their test taking skills with sample questions that are similar in design and format to actual examination questions
- Build their endurance and stamina when answering multiple-choice questions
Why Question Analysis Matters
Sample exams are a staple in any student's study plan, and they play a significant role in gauging your readiness for the big day. However, there is more to these exams than just the score. It's crucial to realize the immense potential for learning that comes from analyzing each question. Think of the exam itself as planting seeds, and question analysis as the harvest.
Question Analysis Basics
When an examination is completed, you will have hundreds of learning opportunities immediately available to you. Here is a brief description of some of the more common features in a sample exam answer key.
Correct Answer and Resource
The correct answer is provided along with an author name and page number substantiating the identified answer. A bibliography offers complete information on each resource including the edition used.
This general statement introduces relevant subject matter pertaining to the question and offers related value-added information.
Explanation of the Correct and Incorrect Options
It is critical for students to review all questions regardless of whether the question was answered correctly or incorrectly. In some cases, a student may have answered a question correctly due more to an educated guess rather than true academic mastery. In other cases, the student may have definitively known the correct answer but upon further inspection they were unsure about one or more of the other presented options. Tweaking even a few words within a given question stem can dramatically change the question focus and the associated answer. The explanations offer incredibly detailed information supporting why the correct answer is correct and why each incorrect answer is incorrect. This feature is extremely beneficial when attempting to enhance decision-making when choosing between good, better, and best options.
Academic Focus Areas
This feature immediately directs the user to critical pages in the academic review section of the review book related to particular subject matter. For example, let’s assume a question was related to the administration of ultrasound. The academic focus area would immediately direct the user to the four pages within the review book that deal with ultrasound. This feature saves users valuable study time and expedites the review process. Not all questions will have an academic focus area since some questions are situationally dependent and rely more on decision-making than recollection of factual information.
This feature allows candidates to analyze their examination performance according to three different levels of questions.
Level 1 – Questions require candidates to possess basic foundational academic knowledge.
Level 2 – Questions require candidates to integrate numerous pieces of information or to apply knowledge in a given clinical scenario.
Level 3 – Questions require candidates to systematically analyze and often interpret information to determine an appropriate course of action. The questions tend to have some degree of subjectivity and candidates are required to assign varying degrees of importance to different variables.
Candidates have the ability to direct remedial efforts by examining their performance in each of the three unique levels.
Test Taking Tip
This feature offers unique test taking tips, when possible, to assist candidates to use deductive reasoning strategies when academic knowledge alone is not adequate to correctly answer a question. The expansive breadth and depth of the NPTE makes it extremely probable that a student will encounter multiple questions on their exam that were outside the scope of their academic training and their study plan. When questions like this are encountered, a student may be able to eliminate one or more of the presented options purely using deductive reasoning. This is critically important on an exam where a single question can make the difference between passing and failing.
Video explanations provide candidates with the opportunity to watch videos that compare and contrast good, better, and best options for selected examination questions. Watching another individual explain their specific approach to answering a particular question can provide students with a much broader perspective and assist them to improve their own decision-making. The videos are extremely engaging, and some might say even fun to watch!
In summary, there are an infinite number of benefits of question analysis. Here are three of the most critical.
- Fine-tune Your Approach: Question analysis helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses, whether in terms of academic knowledge or decision-making skills.
- Discover Remediation Areas: Identifying where you went wrong helps you focus on areas that need improvement.
- Enhance Decision-Making Skills: By comparing options and understanding why one is better than the others, you sharpen your decision-making abilities.
Question analysis is an indispensable tool in your exam preparation arsenal. It not only boosts your chances of passing the exam but also equips you with valuable skills for lifelong learning.