Welcome to the PassMedicine question writing guide. Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to contribute to our resource.
We are constantly striving to improve and add to our questions banks. PassMedicine is passionate about quality and at times there can appear to be many hurdles to clear before questions are accepted.
Why write for PassMedicine?
We will pay you! Our rates are more generous than other publishers - we are obsessed with quality and relevance and are willing to pay for it.
It looks great on your CV/job application. Writing questions/explanation not only shows your teaching ability but also demonstrates communication skills. We will provide all authors with a certificate they can upload to their portfolio.
It's challenging and often fun. Once you've written the questions you'll be able to follow their progress in the wild and make changes/respond to comments if you wish.
You'll be helping those trainee doctors behind you by being part of quality, affordable, respected resource.
You have passed the exam that you are writing questions for
You can create original question which are neither copied nor derived from existing publications/websites/other sources.
You have excellent written English skills.
You are willing to make changes following comments from our experienced editors
Rates of pay are dependent and more details can be found in the question writing portal.
Please note that you will be only eligible to submit further batches if your first batch perform well in our question bank.
This is a one-off payment. There is no requirement to monitor the questions and no bonuses are payable.
A basic outline of the question writing process
Every stage of the question writing process is done through our online author portal which is accessible after logging into your PassMedicine account. You are, of course, welcome to e-mail us at any point if you get stuck or don't understand any aspect of the process.
We accept questions in batches of varying size dependant on the exam. A batch is typically between 5-10 questions.
All the questions must be for the same exam and of the same format.
Single best answer (SBA) questions
The process for submitting SBA questions is a bit different. All our new SBA questions are based around 'concepts'.
You initially submit a series of concepts. A concept is a standalone learning point that the user will take from the question. We have produced a detailed guide to what a concept is (and is not). Thinking about what the question is actually going to test introduces a discipline which significantly improves the quality of the question
Your concepts will be submitted to our clinical editors who will assess whether they are suitable for the exam you are writing for
Once they have been approved
Questions are now written around the agreed concepts
Once these are completed these will be submitted to our clinical editors who will review and may make suggestions for amendments
Live trial period
The questions will then be trialled on the question bank for a set trial period. This is typically 7 days but may be longer depending on the exam/time of year. This is designed to iron any major issues.
After the live trial you will be given the results including the user rating of the question and average score. We use these factors to determine whether we will accept the question. Details of the current acceptance criteria will be given in the question portal before you create the batch.
Other question types
Other question types are not based around concepts. Therefore the initial concept stage is not needed but the rest of the process is the same.
Live trial period
Whilst our editors will always strive to spot potential problems with the questions there is always the possibility that they will miss something. We therefore trial questions live on the website for a few days prior to accepting them. Crazy, right?
"Hang on...That means you're going to use my questions without paying me..."
Yes, that's correct. But only for a short, limited time period.
After that period the question will be removed from the live site
They will only go back on once you've received your payment for the batch
"That sounds really complicated and unfair. Why do PassMedicine do this?"
Because we're obsessed with quality and want to produce the best revision resource in the world
The majority of questions already on PassMedicine meet these criteria
If we accepted questions which don't meet these criteria we would be, by definition, lower the quality of the overall resource
We don't want to do that
The acceptance criteria are as follows:
This depends on the particular question type and is visible in the 'More information' section when you choose to create a new batch
Most batches require either a positive or neutral rating from our users (i.e. more than, or an equal number of 'up votes' compared to 'down votes'. No votes counts as a neutral rating)
Certain batch types (e.g. UCAT, preclinical questions) will fail if there are any negative down votes
An average score in a certain range, typically 30-75%. The exact figures again depend on the particular exam and are available in the 'More information' section. This is to ensure the question is neither too hard or too easy, both of which would mean the question is a poor discriminator and hence wouldn't be used in a real exam
If a trial question has a negative score of -10 or lower it will be automatically pulled from the live site early and will have failed the trial. To accumulate such a low score in a short span of time suggests fundamental quality/relevance issues or errors that need addressing before reuploading.
"What happens if a question doesn't meet the acceptance criteria?"
You'll be given a chance to make changes to the question
Once these changes have been accepted by our editors they'll then be given a further live trial to see if the changes have made a positive change - the questions will again be judged by the same acceptance criteria
If you choose to you can 'abandon' a particular question.
If they fail the second live trial period then the questions that have failed again will be automatically abandoned.
"What happens if some questions meet the criteria but some don't?"
The questions which meet the acceptance will be accepted. They will not have to undergo a further trial when the other questions are retrialled
"Does this mean I may not receive payment for all the questions in the batch?"
Yes, you'll be paid for the questions which meet are acceptance criteria
You won't be paid for questions that you've abandoned or have failed to meet the acceptance criteria. You'll of course continue to own the intellectual property on these and we will in no way use them in the future
We expect authors and editors to adhere to relevant professional guidelines when writing for us. It is important that neither authors nor editors try to manipulate the trial process via voting or other mechanisms. This includes the use of third party accounts. Our systems are able to monitor for abnormal voting/scoring patterns and we reserve the right to take action if this is detected.
MRCP Part 2 specific guidance
The MRCP Part 2 is a single best answer exam which asks questions about the diagnosis, investigation, management, and prognosis of patients.
A number of sample questions can be found on the MRCP website. This is an excellent way to remind yourself of the structure, tone and ‘feel’ of Part 2 questions:
As you are aware Part 2 questions tend to be longer and more challenging than those encountered in Part 1. Questions often include some, or all, of the following:
Past medical history – including conditions which may be irrelevant to the presenting complaint
Investigation results (e.g. bloods, urine, imaging) – many normal results are often included to avoid ‘signposting’ the likely diagnosis. The ability to sift through large amounts of data and pick out the salient points is a key characteristic of Part 2 questions
When constructing questions it is worthwhile remembering what the Royal College are trying to assess:
The MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written Examination will test the ability to apply clinical understanding, make clinical judgements and take responsibility for:
prioritising diagnostic or problem lists
selecting a plan for immediate management
selecting a plan for long-term management
Some MRCP Part 2 questions are based around images. We are not currently accepting image based questions as we feel it is unlikely you would have the explicit permission needed to use patient-related imaging (even if anonymised) for commercial reasons. The current PassMedicine MRCP question writing team has purchased permissions to reproduce radiology/ECG/dermatology from a number of commercial sources and are planning to include some image-based questions to ensure our Part 2 resource is reflective of the exam.
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