Question Writing Workshop

Question Writing Workshop | ASCRS

Saturday, June 1, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
3 CME Credit Hours
Registration Required (No Charge)

Limit: 70 participants

There are multiple areas of examination in the realm of colon and rectal surgery that require written questions to assess knowledge. These include the qualifying written exam, the certifying oral exam, continuous certification questions, CARSITE, CARSEP, and CREST. Despite looking straightforward, it is extremely difficult to write a good exam question. Many concepts are controversial and what is not controversial can become trivial. There are basic guidelines that help the writer and this is a skill that can be learned and improve with practice. In recent years emphasis has been placed on how to write an acceptable exam question and guidelines have been published by organizations such as the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Gap Analysis

What Is: Most professionals such as colon and rectal surgeons feel that it is easy to write high quality questions. However, the majority of questions that are submitted for review each year are rejected or have fundamental flaws that require significant revisions before they can be accepted for use.

What Should Be: There should be many interested members that are able to write high quality questions that can be used with minimal to no revisions.


At the end of this session, participants should be able to:

  1. Identify fundamental problems with construction of questions developed for testing purposes
  2. Explain the sequential thinking process used to write an acceptable question and understand how a key concept drives question development
  3. Demonstrate how to write a stem for a question utilizing the key concept as a foundation 
  4. Develop a second order question that combines diagnosis and management and formats the answers in an acceptable form
  5. Recognize the key differences between a written question and question sequence developed for oral examination formats


Glenn Ault, MD, MSEd, Los Angeles, CA
Kirsten Wilkins, MD, Edison, NJ