Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple Choice Questions: How to Answer Them Correctly

  1. When you take the test, you have to be sure that you clearly understand all the questions you need to give answers to. Sometimes, multiple-choice questions are criticized for being an inefficient means of assessing students’ abilities. Nevertheless, this type of tests is much more effective than it is thought of. They make students analyze different situations, examine facts, explain reasons for some phenomena, give examples, etc.
  2. Your answers should be based on a simple structure. If you are to discuss an exam question in detail, try to write answers in simple sentences and avoid wordiness. Your responses have to be coherent. You do know that some words may have several meanings. For this reason, you need to use the words in their precise meaning. Therefore, you will avoid confusion.
  3. The stem of the question should contain the biggest part of the words. Stem questions differ from the full ones. Thus, a greater number of words have to be placed in the stem of the former. In this way, you will be able to provide brief and precise answers.
  4. Extra choices should be credible. Mind that wrong answers should seem acceptable. It is sometimes very hard to achieve such a result. However, you should try hard not to present apparent distracting options as it may raise the question of the test validity.
  5. Make the answers of the same length. It can be rather complicated, but those who take different tests often say that this specific feature helps identify the right answer. There are a lot of cases when the correct item is a long response. Thus, if you cannot write the answers of the same length, you should combine short and long responses.
Word count difference + 1st-time order
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  1. Avoid using two negatives in the answers. When dealing with questions, try not to use such words as not, nor and no. Additionally, you should not use the words with such prefixes as un-, dis-, etc. Take a look at this question. It can bewilder students, “Which of these cases may not be unclear for witnesses?” It should be written in the following way, “Which of these cases may be clear for witnesses?”
  2. Correct answers should be placed in different positions. Make sure that right options are not “a” or “b” only. It often happens that correct answers go under the same letter. It is much better to place them in a random order. After the test is completed, you need to return to the previous questions and alter the order of answers if necessary.
  3. There should be a steady number of answers. It is not very good when one question contains three answer options and the other – five. The same number of choices helps students select the appropriate ones. There are a lot of discussions as to what number of response options is proper. It has been agreed that the most appropriate number of these options is four.
  4. Do not trick students. Tests as well as exams are created to test students’ skills. Surely, each test has some flaws. However, one should not create such tests that are meant for tricking students. If the question can be answered in two possible ways, it should be restated in a way that will presuppose only answer.
  5. Pay attention to “ALL” or “NONE” variants. The majority of test creators do not approve such options, as they can be useful only when a person, who takes a test, cannot identify a correct response. These options will not help students broaden their knowledge. On the contrary, it may seem that a person choosing this option does not know the material. On the other hand, the said options can stimulate students’ brain activity. If students think that there is more than one correct answer, they will have to analyze the question more carefully to make a proper choice. The “ALL” or “NONE” options may not let the professor put the right grade. When checking students’ tests, it will be hard for teachers to understand whether such option is selected because of lack of knowledge or some other reasons.

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