Transcript for Writing great answer explanations
Writing great answer explanations
When you’re answering a question on an exam, you typically want to know one thing - What’s the answer?
Even if you get the answer right, you might want to find out if you got it right for the right reason.
That’s why writing a good answer explanation is so critical - it’s a great opportunity to teach the learner something new in a way that’s likely to really stick.
Now it all starts off with writing a great question that makes the learner apply what they know to a clinical situation.
Here’s an example. Once the learner picks an answer, they might get an explanation like this one.
The first key, is to put yourself in the shoes of a learner and offer a very carefully reasoned main explanation that moves smoothly from the question to the answer using a logical set of steps.
A question written in the style of a patient vignette has specific features, and a good explanation dives into those features, rather than simply restating generalities that can be found in any textbook.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, it makes the information more memorable and easier to remember.
Second, this reflects the reality of how patients and clinical reasoning work in the real-world.
For example, in our question - the answer clearly addresses an important change in clinical guidelines where it says: “Previous guidelines have included a step that includes endotracheal intubation and suctioning for infants born through meconium-stained fluid“.
The trick is to pull out the key learning points and explain them clearly, using a tone that is professional yet approachable.
If, instead, the answer explanation was just a single line that read, “This patient needs positive pressure ventilation”, then that doesn’t really tell the reader anything except the answer - a good explanation explains why that’s the right answer.
That’s why it’s important to really flesh out the answer with a typical length for the main explanation being about one to two paragraphs.
Now - once the main explanation has been written, it’s important to extract the major takeaway from that question.
People love this because it’s a short 1-2 sentence summary of the correct answer that captures the key elements from the main explanation. You can think of it as a nice little recap.