Reads an incomplete statement or a question, also called
Reads three to five alternatives, including the incorrect options, also called the "distractors" the correct option, also called the "keyed response"
Marks his or her choice
How to develop:
Outline the core content that the test will cover
Identify and prioritize key points, tasks
Write out a series of stems (The question format is generally is less ambiguous than the completion
Write keyed responses in a clear, grammatical sentence that follows the format of the stems
Develop alternatives or distractors that follow the
grammatical style, are consistent in length, and avoid quoting the content of the course
When/how to use:
Appropriate for all levels of cognitive ability
Useful for automated scoring
Useful for item analysis, internal and over time
Ideal test items and stems:
Use simple, direct language to present direct, core
information for analysis, comparison, evaluation, etc. (avoid cleverness, trickery, and verbal complexity)
Include as much of the item as possible in the stem (avoids repeated information and briefer alternatives)
Present unique content Do not build upon other questions Do not supply answers to other questions
Avoid negative stems IF negatives are necessary, they are emphasized with
underlined, bolded, CAPITALIZED,
italicized, and/or colored indicators
Use either the "correct answer" or "best answer" format Correct answer: key response is clearly right and distractors are
clearly wrong Best answer: while distractors can be relatively viable, the key
response is clearly demonstrated to fulfill all conditions of the test item.
Best answer should avoid "none of the above," "both a. and e. above,"
"all of the above," options.
Avoid "All of the following are true,
except . . ." unless testing for exceptions to rules
Paraphrase, and do not directly quote, course content to
avoid burdening students with detailed verbal analyses, to maintain focus on
differentiating, as well as to avoid copyright issues
Qualify significant information at the beginning of the
stem: Background, opinions, etc,: "According to...., ...."
Do not introduce unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts in the
test unless there is a relevant stated purpose in the test directions
Avoid generalizations that are open to interpretation
Use the number of alternatives appropriate to a test item
throughout the test, generally three to five (no necessity to use a consistent
number throughout the test)
Sequence alternatives in logical or numerical order; Should there be no order, randomly assign correct answers in the sequence
List alternatives on separate lines, indent, separate by
blank line, use letters vs. numbers for alternative answers
Pay attention to grammatical consistency of all
Keyed (correct) responses
Vary position in sequence of alternatives
Include common misconceptions as distractors
Include plausible content or viable cues in each distractor Consider optional testing formats if distractors are difficult to develop Avoid meaningless, even humorous distractors
Re-use key words from the correct alternative to make distractors more
Avoid "All of the above" One incorrect distractor eliminates it; two correct distractors identify it
Use "None of the above" as an effective option for factual
information (historical dates, math, etc.) to make a question more challenging
Do not use with a negative stem since it becomes a
Do not use "None of the above" in a "best answer" question
Develop a pool of questions
Generate several optional tests
Types of Multiple-choice questions:
Base questions upon,
preceded by, a statement, image, map, chart, etc. Can accommodate alternative learning styles
Use the Roman Type for
comparisons and contrasts Test stem includes two options, each preceded by a (Roman)
numeral. Alternatives present optional combinations:
Which of the following is (are) accurate about...?
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