Davis's PA Exam Review for the PANCE and PANRE Morton Diamond

Engineering and Reverse-Engineering Test Questions

A skilled test-item writer carefully “engineers” construction of the stem of a question.

The construction has specific goals:

Firstly, the item writer must be confident that test-taker clearly understands what is being asked in the question.

Secondly, there must be sufficient information that leads the test-taker to the correct diagnosis or away from incorrect diagnoses.

Thirdly, when the question asks for the preferred therapy, there must be appropriate information, for example, renal function values, or a co-existing condition, for example, pregnancy, that leads the test-taker to the correct response.


Test Taking Tips for Students Morton Diamond F.A. Davis Company

More Test-Taking Tips for Students from our author, Dr. Mort Diamond

In my earlier entry, I wrote about common errors made by test-takers. Probably the most common error made by the test-taker is that he or she hurriedly reads the stem without careful attention to all details.

Here is another example:


Test Taking Tips for Students Morton Diamond F.A. Davis Company

Breaking Down a Test Question with our Author, Dr. Mort Diamond

This is the time of year that many new graduates in the health professions prepare for national certifying examinations.

I write from several perspectives: a professor with many years’ experience in medical education, an experienced test item writer who served on a national certifying board, and as the author of two medical review books.

A certifying examination is a “two-way street.”

The test item writers must be careful in constructing the stem of questions. As an example, the skilled writer tries to do the following: