Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Assessment Table of Contents/Assessment Chapter 2: Question Writing (section)/Article 1 Reader Responses

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14 Rules for Multiple-Choice Questions

Reader Responses[edit]

Reading these rules confuse me because most of the questions that I experience with multiple choice break these rules. I don't mind when teachers put the answer to one question in the question of another but I do not like negative questions such as which of the following is NOT ... I hate that. Jnemo001 (talk) 02:47, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Giving students multiple choice questions is one method of assessment. In chapter 2, article 1, of _Foundations and Assessment_, the author discusses a number of other subjects in addition to making multiple choice questions. One subject that is discussed is the various philosophies of education. The author lists 8 different philosophies of education, including anywhere from positivism (a method focusing primarily on quantitative facts or what can be objectively measured) to existentialism (a method focusing on the student and how to develop learning in connection to student experience). One strategy that I see most often in Virginia is essentialism, a method built around assessing students on learning preset facts, as measured by standardized tests such as SOLs, etc. How one goes about creating multiple choice questions will depend in part on the philosophy of education one presuppose. From the point of view of essentialism, there will most often be one correct answer. From the point of view of existentialism, this would not be the case. I am interested in studying more about how creating multiple choice questions can change according to the educational philosophy presupposed. Mbrowder (talk) 15:44, 14 June 2009 (UTC)


Ah ha! I knew there was a trade secret involving writing test questions. On tip #5, doesn’t that tip contradict itself? Is he saying that options #2 or #3 are usually the correct ones, or to avoid making the correct answer 2nd or 3rd? I had to laugh when I read #7…avoid extremes – never, always, only. I was told once by a teacher to look for those words to eliminate that option as a correct answer. #12 and #13 are the questions that I love in an exam. Of course if the answer is “all of the above” or “none of the above” I always seem to want to pick that answer! Additionally, one thing I can’t stand in an exam is when a question seems to have a double negative in it. For example if an option read, “It is never correct to not use the turn signal when turning right”, my brain is always scrambled by those type of questions and I have to spend too much time deciphering the instructors words to find the correct answer for a question! Ldomm002 (talk) 18:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


I did not realize all the thought that goes into making MC question tests. This article opened my eyes to something new to think about. It is surprising to see that just rewording the question can make it so much better. I do agree with the information in this article, clear directions are so important. I have always felt that MC questions can be so confusing and that the way some are worded are meant to be tricky. It was also funny to read about how to set up your answers.Aferg006 (talk) 04:55, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


teachers do need to learn how to give better multiple choice tests. students are always happy when they know a test is multiple choice, because they know it will be easier. Teachers are sleeply, so they write simpler questions. I myself prefer short answer or oral test, but if multiple choice could be made effective, then it could be a viable option. Rebecca.hechler (talk) 03:02, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

If these rules are followed they could be a constructive way of testing. I feel though that maybe the preparer of the test finds tricking the student is easier than using these rules.Mlipl001 (talk) 15:18, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


This article was very informative and gave me a lot of ideas on how I may want to word multiple choice tests in the future. It is interesting that by just rewording questions and by giving more intricate answer choices, a teacher can better test his or her students. I believe, however, that it is important to use a variety of questions types, so it might not be a bad idea to use the basic "what is the capital city of California" questions. Using the questions with real-life examples is a great way to find out if students not only know and understand the information, but they can analyze a situation using the information. I did not, however, agree that students should be given long, drawn out explanations of how they are being tested. This might just confuse them, and most will probably just skip over them. Abeck017 (talk) 01:57, 5 June 2009 (UTC)


It is always amazing how much thought and how many studies go into just making multiple choice questions. On saying that, it also amazes me the amount of professors/teachers who still make incorrect tests....or really not as effective tests. I agree with the article that so many questions are meant to trick the student really when we should just be assessing what the students know and not trying to see if they can pass the trick. Also there are the test that have the dead give away questions and answers. Overall, I do agree with this article and the amount of time and thought that should go into tests. I feel sometimes that our education system has become too complicated and if things were simply done it would make a much more effective learning environment...this is in reference to teaching tools and assessments. Sston008 (talk) 16:05, 4 June 2009 (UTC)


Wow! Did I learn some new things about giving multiple choice questions. The explanation about not to make the answer "none of the above" makes sense. A teacher would not know if the student did not know the correct answer if there is a "none of the above" answer. When I have to make a multiple choice test/quiz for my students I will be putting more thought about how to phrase the questions. I never even thought about writing the directions like that. Writing the directions like the example really lets the student know what they are being tested on. I will use these tips myself when taking multiple choice tests/quizzes. Msmhobbs04 (talk) 14:02, 4 June 2009 (UTC)


I found this article to be very interesting. I found the tips for writinf mutiple choice questions to be very helpful. I especially found the tip on not using "none of the above" to be informative. I never thought about that answer choice as meaning the student could not know the answer. I know when I take multiple choice test I dilike the answers that are "none of the above" or "all of the above" or "two or three of the above." I did not realize how challenging it can be to write multiple choise test until I began working on my Wikibook article. I felt as though it took me forever to come up with just four questions. I think reading these tips helped me better understand multiple choice and I feel I will be more effective writing tests in the future with the help of the tips. Lwill031 (talk) 19:27, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


That article was really interesting! All of the tips listed made perfect sense. After taking thousands of test over the years, I think back to all the ones that violated these rules! The point of tests is in fact to see what the student knows and how to improve teaching skills, yet I remember so many "tricky" tests and questions. Keeping the questions simple and concise will be the best method of assessment. I don't think that this means they have to be "easy" questions, but it will allow for a clearly stated question and answer. Having this list of Do's and Don'ts will not only be helpful when writing the multiple choice questions for the Wikibook but in our own classrooms as well. Im beginning to see all that this Wikibook (and the assignments) have to teach us! Khedl002 (talk) 00:14, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


I thought that the multiple choice rules were perhaps the most interesting topic we covered in class today. I never thought writing multiple choice questions could have so many "rules". They were clear and concise and made sense. Especially since after taking many tests as a student, I could relate to most of the "do not" rules. I laughed when I read the rule about not having one question on a test answer another question on the same test. When I can't remember fill-in-the-blank answers on some tests I just go to the multiple choice questions and matching questions and look for a word I think could be the answer. It usually works, too! Hcogg001 (talk) 17:37, 2 June 2009 (UTC)


I thought this article was informative and very interesting. Who would have thought there would be so many things to think about when writing multiple choice questions? I really liked how this article suggested to ask questions that require higher level thinking, as we discussed in class. When an application question is asked about a real-life situation, students must first use knowledge to recall the facts, and then use application to apply the facts to the situation. I feel that after listening to the lecture and reading this article, I can now easily distinguish between knowledge and application questions. I also thought it was interesting how the article said to avoid answering one test question with another test question. It made me think back on how many tests I took where this rule was not applied (and how grateful the students were that the teacher overlooked this!). I agree with the suggestion not to use “all of the above” or “none of the above” in your answer options. If these are used, I feel there is less an opporunity for application or higher level thinking than questions with four possible answers. I will definitely be using these tips and suggestions when writing my multiple choice questions in Wikibook! Afett001 (talk) 00:55, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


I enjoyed reading this article because it showed me my poor ability to write multiple choice questions. I have broken almost every rule!! I enjoyed how the article gave examples of ineffective and effective questions that were followed by explanations. I think Bloom's taxonomy was supported by the article with knowledge being the basis of the questions. Without knowledge students would be unable to answer the higher level thinking questions or be able to reason. Each rule made perfect sense in its own way, however I couldn't seem to forget how many standardized tests that I have taken that broke at least two rules. I believe that all educators and test preparers should read and enforce the rules written in this article. Hcomb003 (talk) 16:26, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


I found this article very helpful. It really made me think back to all the tests I've taken through out school that didn't follow these rules. One of the points that seemed obvious, but tends to be quite common, is making sure that all possible answers are grammatically correct, because students are more likely to pick the answer that is written well. One point that I think may be left up to the discression of the teacher is point #7: Avoid Clues to the Correct Answer. Many teachers will have correct answers to some questions hidden in other questions in the test to make sure that students are reading critically. This also shows if the students really don't know the material, because if they get one question correct and one wrong that both have the same answer, more than likely, they got lucky on one of those questions. These points are all ones that I will keep in mind when I am a teacher, but especially when I am writing the review questions for my special feature. Sbutl016 (talk) 20:11, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


Ok…this article was not my favorite. Nonetheless, it does provide useful information in order to create multiple-choice questions. However, it was somewhat boring. I guess you cannot make this particular topic too exciting. The content however is significant. It is imperative that teachers understand how to properly assess students and have a variety of successful methods to do so. The controversy is whether multiple-choice questions are truly helping students retain information. Personally, I study less and retain less for multiple-choice tests than either short answer or essay tests. Now, do not get me wrong, I do not love short answer essay writing. I just tend to study harder for those types of tests. Different methods of assessments provide different levels of critical thinking, analyzing, reproduction, and practice. I suppose truly, it just depends on the content or importance of subject matter, when choosing the appropriate method. I also suppose that because most classrooms use multiple-choice assessments, teachers should continue to study ways to make these questions more effective. For this reason, the assigned article was right on point. It is a great list to refer back to when creating questions, quizzes, or worksheets for your classroom. It was easy to read. The format was nicely bulleted and short to the point. I will probably print it and keep it with me. The problem…I just don’t always believe in the effectiveness of multiple-choice assessments, but I know they have their purpose. This article lays a great foundation of the rules for developing these types of questions. Abitt002 (talk) 21:56, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


This was a very informative article and I like the use of so many examples. I had a biology class where the teacher did not ask higher level thinking questions on her exams. While it did make it easy to earn a high grade on the tests, I have to wonder how much longer I will retain the information I learned. She also used a lot of "all of the above" and "none of the above" questions. I can see where a student could "guess" the correct answer and then they and the teacher might never truly know if the student grasps the lesson. I will definitely follow the rules from this article when writing my Wikibook article questions and I think every teacher should have this on hand as a reference when designing their exams! Sciaston (talk) 17:42, 4 June 2009 (UTC)


I really enjoyed reading this article because it discusses many of the things you should not do when preparing a multiple choice exam, such as "using only one correct option". Too many times, I have taken multiple choice exams where there were several "possible correct" answers. As a result, I spent too long deciding which answer made the "best choice". On a timed test, if you have to spend too long on one question because there are several possible answers, you tend to speed through the remainder of the test due to the time constraints without reading the content thoroughly. I liked the fact that the author used examples depicting both sides, "effective" and "less effective" choices. It gives me some food for thought when preparing multiple choice exams in the future.Scarlett1 (talk) 04:21, 5 June 2009 (UTC)


This article was very well thought out and organized. Everything was nicely bulleted and easy to read. The examples of the questions really clarified everything. It made me think back to tests that I have had in the past that did not have these tips in mind. I thought that it was interesting that it says to avoid the "All of the above" and "None of the above" options. The reasons made sense, but I have always been so used to having those types of questions that I was kind of surprised. While "All of the above" can be more easily eliminated (if you can identify one or more responses that are definitely not correct), "None of the above" has always seemed a little bit more tricky for me. If I do not clearly know the answer to the question, and then I see "None of the above", I always second guess myself a lot more. Great article, certainly shed some light on strategies of making multiple choice questions. Alucy001 (talk) 00:32, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


I really enjoyed reading this article especially because it documents the proper and improper ways in which to configure multiple choice questions, which is we as teachers will be doing! All of the tips listed made perfect sense to me as I was reading, I felt that all teachers should take a look at this article to see if they are implementing these tips with their present tests or not! I have personal experience with one of the types of multiple choice questions listed as "to avoid". This is the "all of the above" choice for multiple choice questions. I have had several teachers throughout my academic career use "all of the above" as an answer choice with tests and quizzes. I do believe that this is not an adequate measure with which to score a student's knowledge because like the author indicated the student merely has to know just two of the answers are right in order to get the question correct. I have also had many teachers use more than one correct option in the answer. In those cases there were two answers listed that were both right, but there was one the teacher felt was more right than the other. Therefore I feel that the "using only one correct option" is a good outline to use for multiple choice tests as well. I liked the layout of the article, it made it easy to read the paragraphs flowed nicely as well. I did like all the sample multiple choice questions, depicting the best types of questions to use and also the worst types to avoid. I do feel this could be a very valuable resource as a future teacher to look back on when devising my own tests for my students!! Rburt005 (talk) 01:17, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


You know... I would be really, really terrible at designing a test of multiple choice questions. Most likely because I do not have the patience to design something adequate enough to assess if a student learned what I wanted him to. I would much rather design short answer/essay, as I believe it gives more leeway and wiggle room if they can explain to me what they think or why they suppose their answer is correct rather than just circle or fill in a bubble. I'd be much more apt to give partial credit as well. Hsmit022 (talk) 01:40, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


The quiz I had originally written was polished and complete...until I read this article. I never realized the subliminal factors that went into preparing a quiz or a test. These factors can prove critical in the clarification or confusion of a test taker. Back to the drawing board,my wording was revised as well as the format of my questions. The new improvements required a higher level of thinking for the test taker by implementing situational examples, and my favorite option "All the above" was fatefully removed. Now, If only I could somehow forward this article to some of my other professors...? Rpaige (talk) 16:17, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


Very educational article, such an eye opener!!! After reading this is realize that most of the multiple choice exams that I have taken have not been well constructed, spell checked, proofread and practiced by experts before getting to my hands as a student. Who would have known there would be productive rules to follow when creating a challenging but positive exam? Students would have a good experience with the test even thought they are being challenged intellectually. They would not lose their confidence on a topic; of course if they studied… besides that if the test followed the correct structure I think it would be received better because it would be clearer to the student. I wish that some of the teachers that I had in the past would have practice the rules in this document, I would have not spend so much time dealing with the confusing incomplete unreasonable statements that never helped getting to the correct answer. I am happy that one of the emphases on this article was giving clear instructions; these are sometime the mayor reason why students answer incorrectly other than not studying the material. If the students cannot understand what exactly it is that the teacher is asking, then how are they supposed to answer correctly? Great article, direct and clearly understood. It all made great sense to me as a student and as future teacher. Bpenn005 (talk) 16:37, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


Although I have not written many of them, multiple choice questions are one of the hardest things for me to create, because I try hard not be obvious with my answers. By obvious, I mean not having a pattern of answers (for every third question, the answer is B), having a question where it is clear that only one answer is possible (water, juice, soda, candy) or making my choices too hard. However, this article provides many helpful rules and tips for creating a test that actually assess a student’s knowledge and reasoning instead of a test where a student can figure a pattern and answer the questions that way. One of my favorite rules was the fourth rule, keep option lengths similar. There has been many times that I have chosen an answer simply on the basis that it looked longer or shorter than the other choices, so it must be the correct one. I knew that there was a chance that it could be wrong based on that kind of reasoning but it would usually come to this point when I was running out of time or just tired of taking the test. It can be very frustrating on the student’s part, but as a teacher it does give a better view of what the student knows or does not know. Adart001 (talk) 18:56, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


It is refreshing to know that there is a science to some of the tests that I have gotten over the years. I have found that in my experience the requirement about not putting negative questions is definitely one that should be followed. I hate those NOT questions. My job requires me to give American Red Cross tests and the ones that my staff and students frequently get wrong are the questions that have NOT in the question, because they read the questions to quickly and miss that word. I make up practice tests for my daughters to help them study for tests and I will definitely use these suggestions when preparing for them and the one day when I get to do tests in a classroom setting! Jnewh001 (talk) 19:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


I found most of this information to be common sense aside from the use of “higher level thinking questions”. I was unaware of the difference between the two, but after reading the article the difference is clear. The “memorization questions” are those that I found to be much more common on my college level multiple choice tests and the “higher level” questions seemed much more prevalent during my high school years. I suppose this difference can be mostly attributed to professors being experts in their field rather than in “teaching”. I just found it rather odd that as the level of education seems to increase the quality of tests seems to decrease. I know I’m opening a can of worms here…but would it hurt for there to be some sort of basic teaching skill required for college professors? There are many, many brilliant professors that simply cannot teach, or do not care to, and it seems as if though a lot of superfluous difficulty on tests and the classes in general could be eliminated with just some very basic teaching skills. BitterAsianMan (talk) 20:42, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

This year has been a crash course for me in assessments. I have not had an extensive background in test writing. If I would have had this article from the beginning of the year things would have been much easier for me this year. Of course I was able to write test questions, but I could assessed the knowledge of my students at a higher level. All of the classes that I have for my provisional license are in my endorsement area. The classes I need are the foundation education classes. These classes have really been an eye opener as to the ins and outs of classroom teaching. Jtmitchem (talk) 22:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


I think that multiple choice questions help the student in several different ways. for instance in a math class it helps reinforce the correct way to write a certain formula. It can also help the student use decision making skills. this helps them be able to tell the difference between similar answers. in the music world it helps reinforce the difference between different note values and time signatures and things along those lines. I think that multiple choice questions are a very important part of the learning process when they are used properly. Rcoll029 (talk) 23:33, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Multiple choice questions are the easiest way to test a student. Why? Well it can provide not only knowledge or reference questions but questions that will test how well the student knows the material. The rules on this article are precise and helpful toward the test-making process. Tricking a student in no way to test the material.Ehern004 (talk) 21:25, 15 July 2009 (UTC)