Measurement practices: methods for developing content-valid student examinations

Med Teach. 2003 Jul;25(4):414-21. doi: 10.1080/0142159031000100337.


Measurement experts generally agree that a systematic approach to test construction will probably result in an instrument with sound psychometric properties. One fundamental method is called the blueprint approach to test construction. A test blueprint is a tool used in the process for generating content-valid exams by linking the subject matter delivered during instruction and the items appearing on the test. Unfortunately, this procedure as well as other educational measurement practices is often overlooked A survey of curriculum administrators at 144 United States and international medical schools was conducted to assess the importance and prevalence of test blueprinting in their school. Although most found test blueprinting to be very important, few require the practice. The purpose of this paper is to review the fundamental principals associated with achieving a high level of content validity when developing tests for students. The short-term efforts necessary to develop and integrate measurement theory into practice will lead to long-term gains for students, faculty and academic institutions.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel / psychology
  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Knowledge
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schools, Medical
  • United States