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Adventures in Sleep

The Real Test: Writing BRPT Exam Questions

Published October 6, 2009 1:15 PM by Amy Reavis
If you think that the people who write the BRPT tests are clueless or are trying to trick you, think again. The people who write the test are you and me. The questions are gone over multiple times, trialed and reviewed again. There is science that goes into every question they ask. 

But what really blew my mind was how hard it is to write an acceptable question and how much harder it is to modify one.

At the BRPT Symposium, they broke us up into two major groups and then into small groups.  I had the privilege of working on question modification first.  They showed us examples of questions that did not work well when trial tested.

It was why they were unacceptable that really was interesting.  Some of them were pretty straight forward but they did not have enough people answer the question correctly.  Other questions had to be reworked because either too many people answered the question correctly or the question was answered correctly by people who did poorly on the test. 

The most confusing though was the one where the question just did not correlate correctly with the percentages.  These questions would then have to be reworked to be clearer in wording.  Maybe two of the answer choices were good choices. Other questions were up for modification because it was too easy to read too much into the questions.

In the hour we were reworking questions, we only got through three questions. 

Next, I move on to question writing.  Question writing was done in groups of 10. We were given a list of subjects we were to write on.  We were then to write three questions and document where we got the information from.  They provided us with A-STEP outlines, text books and montage graphics. 

At our table, we wrote questions about artifact and about math calculations for the CPSGT exam.  It was interesting to see where the new exam will be going.  It also made our table work both as a group and individually to get clear questions that new technicians would need to know.

This two session experience really allowed me to understand how testing is performed.  I really appreciate the amount of work that goes into making these tests fair and still allow accurate testing of technicians to perform basic skills.

posted by Amy Reavis


I could not agree with you more!!!! I was privileged to be a part of the exam committee a number of years ago. It is very difficult to write exam questions which test knowledge, are not ambiguous, have only one answer etc. Thanks for your comments as many have no idea how much time and effort go into making the exams. M

Mary, Sleep - Clin Coord, Northwest Sleep Center October 7, 2009 1:18 PM
Elgin IL

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    Adventures in Sleep
    Occupation: Sleep technicians
    Setting: Various sleep facilities
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