Aim This paper in the series on professional assessment provides a practical guide to writing key features problems (KFPs). Key features problems test clinical decision-making skills in written or computer-based formats. They are based on the concept of critical steps or ‘key features’ in decision making and represent an advance on the older, less reliable patient management problem (PMP) formats.
Method The practical steps in writing these problems are discussed and illustrated by examples. Steps include assembling problem-writing groups, selecting a suitable clinical scenario or problem and defining its key features, writing the questions, selecting question response formats, preparing scoring keys, reviewing item quality and item banking.
Conclusion The KFP format provides educators with a flexible approach to testing clinical decision-making skills with demonstrated validity and reliability when constructed according to the guidelines provided.