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Guidelines for submission of questions to the ECVAA
(updated March 2013)

  1. General remarks

    The ECVAA examination committee needs help from all Diplomates in generating questions for the board examination. The need is particularly great for the multiple choice questions (MCQ), but new essay questions (EQ), short answer questions (SAQ) and possibly questions for the spot-on session of the oral examination are welcome.

    Submitting questions is compulsory for ALL active Diplomates according to the Bylaws of the Constitution, article 4, 4.2, last paragraph. Moreover, for re-registration of ALL active Diplomates a point-collection system has been introduced (according to EBVS requirements); one way of collecting points is the submission of questions to the College. Each active Diplomate MUST submit five questions which are accepted as suitable by the exam committee for each 5 year re-evaluation period (1 question/year). It may be necessary to revoke practicing Diplomate status from College members not meeting this obligation.

  2. Questions for ECVAA

    a) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

    Multiple Choice Questions have the advantage of a high reliability per hour of testing, mainly because they can be answered quickly and a wide spectrum of knowledge can be tested in a short space of time. There is a need for questions that cover not only veterinary anaesthesia, but also biophysics, statistics, and general medicine and surgery when relevant to anaesthetic management, exotic and laboratory animals, history, etc. We are not looking for the obscure or unusual, but for an answer which an ECVAA Diplomate may be reasonably expected to know.

    The format of ECVAA MCQs is 'single best answer' i.e. a 'stem' or statement, followed by FIVE answers, only ONE of which is correct (the remaining four are termed DISTRACTORS).

    Useful tips for writing good MCQs:

    1. Avoid negatively stated stems that require the examinee to choose an incorrect rather than a correct response, e.g. avoid stems containing terms such as “Which one of these is NOT....”
    2. Make the stem as clear and unambiguous as possible.
    3. Avoid using the terms “always” and “never”.
    4. All responses should be grammatically consistent with the stem.
    5. All distractors must be plausible and should be of similar length.
    6. Responses should not overlap in meaning, such that more than one correct answer may be selected.
    7. Do not use "all of the above", "none of the above", "two of the above" e.g. "a and d can be used".
    8. Do not use questions that might ask "What would you do?"
    9. Questions should be written to assess knowledge of meaningful facts and concepts, and not trivia.
    10. Stems should ask questions concisely, not be over-long, and be grammatically correct. Do not include unessential information in the stem.
    11. Avoid providing clues within the stem that will facilitate answering the question.
    12. Avoid creating situations where a candidate can answer a question by recognizing the correct option, but could not answer in the absence of options. This effect is called ‘cueing’ and is a particular problem when assessing diagnostic reasoning.
    13. Avoid using answers that are mutually exclusive. For example, if answer a and b are opposites, it will often narrow the answer down to one of those answers.
    14. Avoid questions that are based on a single paper on material that is still subject to much debate or controversy; review papers or state-of-the-art papers are appropriate.

    Please submit these using the template provided (3.2). In the Comments section of the template, please include up to date, complete references and an explanation as to why the distractors are incorrect. References may be current, well-recognized textbooks, but ideally a specific citation to an article is required, i.e. authors, title, journal, year.

    For further tips on writing good MCQ questions, a useful guide can be found on the National Board of Medical Examiners website (

    b) Essay Questions

    These questions cover mainly basic science, equipment, monitoring, pharmacology and physiology related to clinical anaesthesia. Each answer is expected to be around 3 sides of A4 paper with normal handwriting (1200-1800 words).

    In addition to an “essay question” that suits a 1200 – 1800 word response, we also require that you provide in telegram style or with extended key-wording the essence of a correct answer (model answer) with relevant reference(s).

    c) Short Answer Questions

    The short questions should be answered in the form of "Essay-notes". Answers should be concise, with facts rather than discussion (unless requested). As a guide to length of answer, they are expected to be half a page of A4 with normal handwriting - with a maximum of one such page (we estimate this as between 200-300 words). Diagrams may be in addition to this.

    As with the essay questions, please provide in telegram style or with extended key-wording the essence of a correct answer (model answer) possibly with relevant reference(s).

  3. General information about MCQ

    3.1 Some examples used in the ECVAA-Diploma examination

    Short Answer Ouestions:

    Essay Questions:

    Multiple Choice Questions:

    3.2 Template for submission of MCQs

    Download the template

    Descriptive terms

    Category Sub- category
    Pharmacology Analgesics drugs
    CVS drugs
    Induction agents
    Inhalation agents
    Sedative drugs
    Physiology Cardiovascular
    Other systems
    Biophysics & Measurement Basic physics
    Anaesthetic machines
    Breathing systems
    Monitoring equipment
    Clinical Anatomy
    Sheep & goats
    Small furry

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