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Blueprinting is a powerful tool which helps to focus the OSCE designers on the exact nature of what they wish to test and to relate this to the learning outcomes (Table 2).

Table 2

How to construct an objective structured clinical examinations Blueprint
Review the curriculum learning outcomes
  • Decide on domains of skills to be tested
  • Map the domains against the learning objectives
  • Sampling: decide on the proportion of stations in each section
  • Calculate your total testing time; ensure appropriate time is allowed for the task at each station

Once the blueprint or framework for an OSCE is agreed (Figure 1), the individual stations can domains be planned and classified according to this blueprint. This ensures adequate sampling across subject area and skill, in terms of numbers of stations covering each skill and the spread over the subjects/systems of the course being tested.

Figure 1  Example of an objective structured clinical examination blueprint

System  History  Explanation  Examination  Procedures
Cardiovascular    Chest pain Discharge drugs Cardiac Blood pressure management
Respiratory Haemoptysis   Respiratory Peak flow
Gastrointestinal Abdominal pain Gastroscopy Abdominal Rectal examination
Reproductive Amenorrhoea Abnormal smear Cervical smear  
Nervous Headache   Eyes Ophthalmology
Musculo-skeletal Backache   Hip  
Generic Pre-op assessment Consent for post-mortem   IV cannulation

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