Pros and cons of various Types of Test Questions

It’s good to regularly review the advantages and disadvantages of the very most widely used test questions plus the test banks that now frequently provide them.

Multiple-choice questions

  • Quick and easy to score, by hand or electronically
  • May be written in order that they test a range that is wide of thinking skills
  • Can cover lots of content areas on a exam that is single still be answered in a course period

  • Often test literacy skills: “if the student reads the question carefully, the clear answer is not difficult to acknowledge even when the student knows little about the subject” (p. 194)
  • Provide unprepared students the opportunity to guess, and with guesses that are right, they get credit for things they don’t know
  • Expose students to misinformation that can influence subsequent thinking about the content
  • Take some time and skill to create questions that are(especially good

True-false questions

  • Easy and quick to score

  • Regarded as being “one of the very most unreliable types of assessment” (p. 195)
  • Often written so that almost all of the statement is true save one small, often trivial bit of information that then makes the whole statement untrue
  • Encourage guessing, and reward for correct guesses

Short-answer questions

  • Fast and simple to grade
  • Easy and quick to write

  • Encourage students to memorize terms and details, in order for their comprehension of the content remains superficial

  • Offer students a chance to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities in many ways
  • Enables you to develop student writing skills, specially the capacity to formulate arguments supported with evidence and reasoning

  • Require time that is extensive grade
  • Encourage use of subjective criteria when assessing answers
  • If found in class, necessitate quick composition without time for planning or revision, that may lead to poor-quality writing

Questions given by test banks

  • Save instructors the right time and energy associated with writing test questions
  • Make use of the terms and methods which can be used in the book

  • Rarely involve analysis, synthesis, application, or evaluation (cross-discipline research documents that approximately 85 percent for the relevant questions in test banks test recall)
  • Limit the scope associated with the exam to text content; if used extensively, may lead students to conclude that the materials covered in class is irrelevant and unimportant

We have a tendency to genuinely believe that these are the only test question options, but there are lots of interesting variations. The article that promoted this review proposes one: focus on a question, and revise it until it may be answered with one word or a short phrase buy essay online. Usually do not list any answer options for that question that is single but affix to the exam an alphabetized list of answers. Students select answers from that list. Some of the answers provided may be used more than once, some may possibly not be used, and there are many answers listed than questions. It’s a ratcheted-up version of matching. The approach makes the test more challenging and decreases the chance of having an answer correct by guessing.

Remember, students do need to be introduced to your new or altered question format before they encounter it on an exam.

Editor’s note: the menu of benefits and drawbacks will come in part from the article referenced here. It also cites research evidence highly relevant to many of these benefits and drawbacks.

Reference: McAllister, D., and Guidice, R.M. (2012). That is only a test: A machine-graded improvement to the multiple-choice and examination that is true-false. Teaching in Higher Education, 17 (2), 193-207.

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 28.3 (2014): 8. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.

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