Multiple Choice Questions
Written questions ought to be checked by someone else as it is easy to make errors both in the wording of the question and the intention for the answer.
Questions for essays and each one question and answer options for multiple choice should not require turning over the page to read through. Where perhaps a comprehension exercise is involved of two sides or less, then the two sides should face each other.
The aim is to produce a well reasoned, sentence structured piece of writing based on the question title and only on the question title.
- The question title should be a guide to the writing process.
- The question title may need to be broken down into several sentences.
- A question title can give small clues and directions as to what is wanted in the essay.
- Consider the thought patterns that a student is supposed to go through as a result of answering the title.
- Are the thoughts required too easy or too complex?
- What level of English literacy do the questions require?
- Attempt to be original in the creation of an essay title.
- Essay questions should be open, with words like compare, contrast, explain, reason through, criticise, predict, so that lines of argument can be developed
- Essay title questions should not contain closed questions starting with List, what, who, when because they prevent lines of argument.
- Where an issue is controversial, the framing of the question should centre on the evidence first and only opinion as a result.
- The thought process on a controversial question should emphasis seeing something from another point of view.
- Where comprehension is involves the question must be clear in what it requires from using the passage and may have to have numbered lines and refer to the numbered lines.
Although multiple choice is seen as quick and with a random element, questions should be framed so that students stop and think.
- The question as a whole should lead logically to the options presented.
- The question should not labour the point but be sharp and specific.
- The question should be the closed type answered by one option or a limited number.
- Avoid the use of the negative in the question to avoid confusion.
- The question should not offer a clue to the correct answer option.
- The answer options should be brief.
- If there is just one answer this should be made clear.
- If there is more than one option then how many should be clear.
- If the task is to mark the one option that is incorrect, this must be absolutely clear.
- Use of 'None of the above' when every answer option carries complete clarity so that they can be rejected.
- All options including the wrong ones should be plausible.
- Options may however vary in plausibility.
- Avoid use of 'All of the above' as it adds confusion and can be misleading especially when all are at least plausible.
See Thorndike, R. L., Hagen, E. (1969), Measurement and Evaluation in Psychology and Education (3rd Edition), London: Wiley.