Writing effective scenario questions

Want to increase the quality of your assessment questions? Think stories!

Scenario-based evaluation questions help the learner to really think about the content, not just regurgitate facts or data. Check out this easy plan for constructing good scenario questions:

Hendrich’s ABCD Model for Constructing Effective Scenario Questions

·        Actor/Audience – Who is in the situation? Who is involved?

·        Behavior – What situation are they in? What are they trying to or unable to do?

·        Condition – Under what circumstances or context is the actor behaving or hoping to behave?

·        Dilemma/Decision – What decision must the actor make? What dilemma is s/he facing?

Examples of ABCD Question Stems

Below are some example questions which include Actor(s)/Audience (A), Behavior (B), Condition (C), and Dilemma/Decision(D). Note that the order of presentation of each component is not important.

  • Dr. Chang is considering prescribing a blood pressure medication for Jim, who has a comorbid liver disorder. What class of medications is Dr. Chang likely to choose?
  • Meryl stopped taking her antidepressant, because she did not like the sexual side effects. What class of medications was Meryl likely taking?
  • Ernesto has not found any success with two different SSRIs and is worried that he’ll never find relief.  What might Dr. Cerilski tell him?

Now it’s your turn…try writing an ABCD scenario question today!

3 thoughts on “Writing effective scenario questions

  1. I am teaching adult students in an academic environment where the students and teachers fight changing the way students are tested. We have learned that the board material that is tested after graduation has become more scenario-based. I desperately need help!
    Do you have any workshops/seminars available?
    Christie Redmon


  2. I agree with the above comments. The best part of this formula is its simplicity. It explains how to tell a story with just four elements.




  3. This is a perfect formula for writing good questions, Dr. Susan. It will be easy as ABCD to remember, too. Here is my first scenario based question using your model:

    (A) Susan often (B) writes lots of good information for her blog followers to use in instructional design. (C) Her fan, Kirtha, encourages her to write a book. (D) How does she respond?


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