Single Best Answers in Surgery Second Edition is an best one for medico surgical studies for the benefit of MRCS Preparators
The first step in perfecting your exam technique is to follow the format set by your medical school and practise answering many of these questions well in advance of the exam. For example, little benefit is drawn from using true/false questions as a revision tool when the exam format is based on a bank of single best answer (SBA) questions.
In the context of SBA questions, you will usually be awarded one mark for every question that is answered correctly. Some medical schools implement negative marking, where one mark is deducted per wrong answer. This makes guesswork highly unfavourable and may result in you obtaining significantly low marks. However, in the majority of UK medical schools there is no negative marking so you should aim to answer all of the questions.
The SBA question consists of an introductory theme, a question stem (which in most cases consists of a clinical vignette but may occasionally be a theory-based fact), followed by five possible responses (A–E), of which one of them is the most likely suited answer to the question.
How to answer SBAs
First, we recommend that you attempt to answer an SBA question in just under a minute. This can be hard at first but, through practice, it is achievable and will leave you with some spare time to re-check your responses or go over questions that you are unsure about.
A method of answering an SBA is to cover up (with a piece of paper or your hand) the five possible options and carefully read just the theme and stem. By doing this, you may be able to think of the answer which will usually be one of the five options given for that question. In some cases where questions tend to be less straightforward, the method of delineating the wrong options first is usually very helpful as this will leave you with fewer possible options and with a higher chance of opting for the correct answer.
Some students tend to lose marks by blindly answering SBAs and extended matching questions (EMQs) by using pattern recognition of the words used in the stems. In some cases this may prove to be successful, but distracters may be placed in the stem which may change the entire meaning of the question, which would in turn demand an alternative response to the one initially thought. The best way to avoid this is to read the question carefully and understand fully what the SBA question is asking of you. In an SBA, all of the options available may not be ideal, but you still have to select the best of those available.