Feb 2005

February 2005: three enhancements


EMQs may now be processed with Lertap. EMQs are extended-matching questions, also known as EMIs (where the I means "item").  A test which makes use of EMQs will typically start out by presenting a series of options, up to 26 of them -- these turn out to be the same as the alternatives, or options, commonly used by MCQs (multiple-choice questions).  What makes EMQs different from MCQs?  Well, firstly, EMQs use many more options than MCQs.  A typical MCQ will have what?  Four options?  Five?  EMQs will have anywhere from 10 to 26.


Then, secondly, EMQ-using tests will have several items which use the same set of options.  (This is why the set of options appears before the questions which use them.)


Who uses EMQs?  They're popular with the National Board of Medical Examiners in the United States, and they are used in exams created by the United Kingdom's "PLAB", the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board.  We know that EMQs are also frequently used in the Caribbean, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago.


In practical terms, this means that Lertap's Res= declaration may now up to 26 entries; here's a little example, showing an Res= declaration which sets out 20 options:


*Sub Res=(A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T), Title=(EMQs!)


In order to accommodate the use of EMQs, we've changed the way Lertap's *alt card works.  It used to be that the entries on the *alt card indicated how many of the Res= characters were used by an item; now the entries actually indicate which Res= character is the last one used by an item.  (See example C7 under the Cognitive CCs topic, and remember: *alt is used only when some items use more options than others; if all items use the same number of options, *alt is not needed.)


The second enhancement?  New options which control how quintile plots plot.  You can have Excel automatically attach data tables to the plots (if you want), and you can tell Lertap to tell Excel that you only want certain items to be quintiled, not all of them.  To read about this, you will want to click here.


And finally, the third enhancement concerns adjusting the difficulty index for cognitive items so that unanswered or omitted questions are omitted from the calculation of the index.  If you would not like to read about this enhancement, ignore the temptation to click here.