Modified essay questions (MEQs)

Originating and often used in medical education, MEQs are a sequence of questions based on a case study and designed to test higher order thinking. Students are usually presented with a scenario, and then given a series of questions based on it that they answer with a short text. Some automated forms can include branched questions, providing contextual follow up questions based on the students’ responses to each question. MEQs assess a student’s ability to identify problems, and resolve them by applying their existing knowledge.

Workload guide

Preparation time Medium Student workload High Marking time High

Literacies and skills exhibited

  • Identifying, posing and defining problems
  • Organising, reviewing and paraphrasing information
  • Investigating and interpreting
  • Developing arguments, reflecting, evaluating and assessing
  • Analysing and reviewing data and applying information


  • Essay
  • Observation of real or simulated professional practice
  • Case studies


MEQs are normally provided in a written examination, and are usually marked against a simple rubric that outlines key decisions or responses the student should have made. There are also some online/digital forms that can test limited responses automatically.


See exams for feedback options on written examinations. There is also potential for running formative MEQs within seminar or tutorial groups, and providing instant feedback on responses.


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

Share this page: