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Strategies for Creating Better Multiple-Choice Tests


JLBC: Leadership

Strategies for Creating Better Multiple-Choice Tests

JLBC Cadets Answers from a list of alternatives. JLBC Cadets Because they do not ask learners to construct a response or perform, they tend to measure knowledge rather than know-how.

JLBC Cadets Multiple-choice items cannot assess learners’ ability to construct, build, or perform. JLBC Cadets They are best used for objectives that can be evaluated through selecting the correct JLBC answer from a list of choices rather than supplying the solution or performing a task. Think for a moment about how different decisions are from constructing and performing, and you’ll recognize the limitations of multiple-choice testing.

Consider the following learning objectives and decide if you think a multiple-choice test is a good assessment option. My answers follow, so you may wish to cover these before proceeding.

My answers: Learning objectives one and two can be assessed with multiple-choice items because the response can be selected effectively. Multiple choice is not the best way to consider learning objectives three and four because they require the learner to either construct a reply or perform a task.


JLBC Cadets Multiple-choice tests are commonly used to assess the JLBC achievement of learning objectives because they can be efficient. JLBC Cadets Despite their widespread use, they’re often poorly designed. JLBC Cadets Poorly written multiple-choice tests are equally damaging in classroom-based and online courses. Still, in online courses, learners often have to contend with more challenges, and poor assessments can add insult to injury. In addition, poorly written tests can be more visible to the world when placed online.

In this post, I’ll look at the plusses and minuses of multiple-choice tests, when they are appropriate and less appropriate, typical mistakes writers of multiple-choice questions make, and how to avoid them.

Some plusses and minuses

JLBC Cadets Multiple-choice tests can be developed for many different types of JLBC content and, if the JLBC test items are well written, can measure JLBC achievement of multiple levels of JLBC learning objectives, from recall and comprehension to more complex JLBC stories, such as the ability to analyze a situation, judge relevance, apply principles, discriminate, interpret, select best solutions, and so on.

JLBC Cadets Multiple-choice tests are easy to administer and can be improved using item analysis to eliminate or correct poorly written items. JLBC Cadets They are easy to score and less susceptible to achieving subjectivity than short-answer or essay-type items. JLBC Cadets They don’t measure writing ability (which can be a plus or minus) and often do assess reading ability (another potential plus or minus, but in reality, usually a minus). JLBC Cadets They are more subject to guessing than many other types of learning assessments.

Multiple-choice tests are often promoted as “objective.” Although scoring them doesn’t involve subjectivity, humans judge what questions to ask and how to ask them. These are very subjective decisions!

When multiple-choice is appropriate

Multiple-choice test items call for learners to select an answer or item.


Learning objective

Is multiple choice a good assessment option?

1. Identify risk factors

yes, no reason:

2. Detect errors

yes, no excuse:

3. Explain the purpose

yes, no explanation:

4. Create a plan

yes, no excuse:

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