Multiple-choice questions help to develop critical thinking among students. In order to create a good test, it is important to consider the types of test.
Many people consider this type of test not effective. Such point of view is supported due to the fact that it is believed not to test the real knowledge of students but only to identify how good they can recall the information learnt during classes. However, this test requires much more than just recalling from a test-taker. In order to answer questions during a test, the students will have to apply critical thinking and evaluate different situations, consider various scenarios, as well as predict some outcomes.
If you write stem questions instead of fully worded ones, you should place most of the text in a stem. Such approach will help to make the answers shorter, hence easier to read and less confusing for a test-taker.
If you are assigned with a task of creating questions for a test or an exam, the best way to do it is to write short questions that are easily read and are simple for understanding. Do not forget to pay attention to the word choice, as the meaning of a word can differ depending on the context.
It is not always easy, but it has to be done to make your test more complex. The deal is that the test-takers can guess the answer based on its length. Normally, longer answers are considered the correct ones. In case you find it difficult to make the answers of the same length, use a mixture of long and short answers.
Your task as a test creator is to make wrong answers seem as credible as possible. However, remember that your task is to give options but not to confuse the test-takers. Avoid adding too tricky answers, as they can have a negative effect on test’s credibility.
Make sure the number of answers choices is the same for each question. It is not recommended to provide four options for one question and then six for the other one. Test participants should know what to expect. As a result, four answers is considered to be a reasonable choice.
It is not always reasonable to make “c” or “a” option correct for all the questions. It is recommended to place the correct answers randomly. It will help you avoid creating similar patterns.
Options “None” and “All” are used in cases when test designers run out of options and distractors. However, it is recommended not to use them at all or use them very rarely, as they do not contribute to students’ understanding of topic and knowledge improvement. Moreover, if students see that more than one answer can be correct, they stop thinking on the question and start guessing. In addition, options “None” and “All” do not help an evaluator to check whether the students really know the answer to the given question or not.
Such sentence structures can confuse the participants. Prefix “un” and the words “no”, “not”, “nor” are not recommended to be used together. For instance, the following question will be difficult to understand: “Which option may not be unsuitable?” Consequently, it should be replaced with a question like this: “Which option may be suitable?” Such sentence structure will add to understanding of the question sufficiently.
Regardless of the test type, its main aim remains the same: to check and improve knowledge of test-takers. As a result, multiple-choice questions tests should not be designed in a way to confuse and trick the participants. If you see that your question can be interpreted in two or more different ways, rewrite it.
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