Many of you reading this will admit to the joy of taking a multiple-choice test as students. Probably because they’re quick since you don’t have to type in long answers or because of the number of choices that help us answer the question. They’re indeed fun.
“Although people often think about multiple-choice tests as tools for assessment, they can also be used to facilitate learning,” says Andrew Butler, a cognitive psychologist in Arts & Sciences in his study on multiple-choice testing in education published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.
In an article, published by the Washington University in St. Louis “While multiple-choice testing, especially repeated testing, has the potential to strengthen our recall, a poorly formatted test can have the opposite effect. An ill-formed test can muddy our recollection of the correct answer and reinforcing memories for inaccurate “distractor” answer“.
But, there is always room for improvement. Creating better online multiple-choice tests with an online test maker enables better assessment of students’ learning.
There are many advantages to using online multiple-choice tests (MCQ test) for student assessment. Here are some of them:
- Answers can be auto-graded along with instant feedback which reduces the burden on teachers.
- Saves you time as the grading is automated
- Only one choice can be selected, so ideal for a test on factual topics. If you want to allow multiple selections, try checkbox questions.
- Can be used for both scored & personality tests
- Easy to create numerous easy multiple choice questions and answers on different topics.
- An efficient way of testing the knowledge of large batches of learners
- Allows you to create engaging tests using a variety of multiple-choice question layouts
Well-built multiple-choice tests allow testing for a wide breadth of content and objectives. They also provide an objective measurement of student ability.
Creating a multiple-choice test that would aid the student assessment and learning is not a matter of rocket science but art.
It requires paying attention to every little segment of a multiple-choice test and making sure they’re accurate to the bits.
Read More:- What Is Student Assessment ?
In this article, the strategies for creating a perfect online multiple-choice test have been clubbed under four sections:
✓ Answer choices
Let’s have a look at them one by one.
The first step in creating a multiple-choice test is adding questions. You can either use an online test maker to create multiple-choice tests where you can import questions from the question library or build your own from scratch to make a multiple-choice test.
✓ Use a Simple Format
Framing simple questions is one of the primary rules of creating a perfect multiple-choice test- Use a simple question-answer format even when you switch between different types of multiple-choice questions.
Even though complex question-and-answer formats have become popular, it is always better to keep answer choices simple and easy-to-understand to avoid any chance of confusion.
Creating questions and answer choices that are difficult to understand may require more, and the students might end up skipping the question.
For Example, choices like such as “A and B, but not C,” or questions that allow repeated answers until the correct choice is made, are quite mind-boggling and take a lot of time to be answered. These multiple-choice questions’ examples given below will give you an idea about how you must create your questions:
Incomplete Statement Format: The fastest animal on earth is ……………………
Direct Question Format: Which of the following is the fastest animal on earth?
✓ Use a Familiar Language
The question that you add must be created in the same language in which the course has been conducted.
Avoid using unfamiliar expressions or foreign language terms, unless measuring knowledge of such language is one of the goals of the test.
Students are likely to dismiss distractors with unfamiliar terms as incorrect.
✓ Avoid Using Irrelevant Information in the Question
Adding unnecessary information to the question does no good but increase the length of the question.
Eliminate irrelevant information from the question as it confuses students and leads them to waste time.
This question can be better presented as:
✓ Which Empire did the ancient Spartans band together to defeat?
Creating accurate multiple choice answers is one of the most important multiple-choice test strategies. Follow these tips when you build answer options to make sure you get the perfect ones:
✓ Avoid Clues to Correct Answer
Inconsistency in answer choices often come across as a clue to the correct answer. Differences in grammar, length, formatting, and language choice in the answer choices often make an answer choice seem like the correct answer.
So, it is important that all the answer choices:
- Have grammar consistent with the question
- Are parallel in the form
- Are similar in length
- Use similar language (e.g., all unlike textbook language or all like textbook language)
To sum it up, the answer choices must be homogenous. Answer choices that are heterogeneous in content can provide cues to the student about the correct answer. In the image given below is one such sample multiple-choice question:
Note: Because option A focuses on a different type of molecule (cholesterol) than items B, C, and D, it can lead test makers to the correct answer.
✓ Avoid ‘All the Above’ & ‘None of the Above’ Answer Choices
While you create answer choices for a question, it’d be better that you avoid using ‘all the above’ & ‘none of the above’ options. Here’s why:
✓ When you use ‘All of the above’:
- Students who can identify more than one answer choice as correct can select the correct answer even if unsure about another choice (s).
- It also makes the answers more obvious, robbing students of potential learning that comes from recall processing.
✓ When you use ‘None of the above’:
- Students who can eliminate a single option can thereby eliminate a second option
- The option “none of the above” doesn’t test whether the student knows the correct answer, but only that he/she knows the distractors aren’t correct
✓ Use Upto Four Answer Choices per Question
Three- four-choice items are about as effective as four or five-six choice items.
Remember not to go overboard with choices. Confine your answer choices to a maximum of four.
✓ Make the Distractors Plausible
If the distractors are farfetched, students will locate the correct answer too easily, even if they have little knowledge.
When testing for recognition of key terms and ideas, keep the distractors similar in length and type of language as the correct solution.
Here’s an example:
US Counselling Services provides workshops about:
- Cooking Skills
- Hockey Refereeing
- Study Skills
- Fire Safety & Prevention
Here, “study skills” is the right answer to the question and the other answer options have no plausible link to it. An ideal question should have plausible links between the question and the distractors, like this
Watch This Video To Know How to Create Online Tests
US Counselling Services provides workshops about:
- Preparing for Marriage
- Presentation Skills
- Study Skills
- Psychotherapy Research
✓ Place the Answer Choices in Some Meaningful Order
A better-structured question is easy to understand and even easier to respond to. So, whenever possible, try to place the choices in numerical, chronological, or conceptual order. For example:
During what period was Barack Obama the president of the USA?
(d) 2009-2017 (right answer)
Once you’re done adding your questions and their answer choices, you can customize your tests as and how you like, to give them a unique personality.
✓ Add Your Own Logo
Give a personality to your multiple-choice tests by adding your own logo in the test description. This is possible if you create your test with a good online test generator software.
✓ Change Background as per the Topic
Adding a background relevant to your test topic only makes the test more interesting for students.
For Example: If you’re conducting a geography test on the topic of “rainforests“, make sure that the background image represents forests.
✓ Change Color Themes
You can change the color theme to how you’d like it to be. But, remember that the scheme that you choose should resonate with your test.
✓ Provide Completion Certificates
Providing completion certificates to your students is completely up to you. Some online quiz software tools allow you to create customized completion certificates that are sent to students after they complete their test.
Completion certificates are a great way to motivate your students and inspire them to perform better.
Some online test maker tools allow security configurations using which you can make your tests secure and prevent cheating in an unauthorized setting.
✓ Randomize Questions
Randomizing questions is a great way to reduce the chances of cheating in online exam software. Since most of the online tests are unsupervised, it is important to configure settings to bring down the probability of cheating.
When you randomize questions, every student who takes the test will receive a different order of questions and so, it’ll be difficult for them to cheat.
✓ Shuffle Answer Choices
Shuffling answer choices is another great way to reduce cheating. Change the order of answer choices of your multiple-choice questions and you’ll see how difficult it gets for students to cheat.
✓ Create Private Links
Creating a private link or putting a password on your test will prevent unauthorized access and leakage of test paper.
Improve Learning With a Test That’s Challenging
Build tests that are hard enough to reveal how well students are through with the material, but easy enough that a majority of them get a passing score.
The end goal of multiple-choice tests is strengthening the memory of your students. Asking questions correctly boosts memory retention while failing to answer correctly doesn’t. So, remember this when you create your multiple-choice tests and try to keep them challenging but simple for the students.
The most effective multiple-choice questions make students to inculcate productive ways of learning while providing an easier way to study.
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