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 Have you ever seen a truly awful multiple-choice test question?
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Have you ever seen a truly awful multiple-choice test question?
« Posted: July 13, 2007, 12:22:31 AM »


Have you ever seen a truly awful multiple-choice test question?


Have you ever seen a truly awful multiple-choice test question? One that is so defective that the
correct answer is either obvious, debatable, obscure, or missing altogether? One that makes you
wonder what the test writer had in mind when he or she constructed it? The following is such a
question:
Most multiple-choice test questions are not as replete with errors as this example, but you have
probably seen many of the errors before. In addition to confusing and frustrating students,
poorly-written test questions yield scores of dubious value that are inappropriate to use as a basis
of evaluating student achievement. Compare the example above with the following one:
While this example may still leave room for improvement, it is certainly superior to the first one.
Well-written multiple-choice test questions do not confuse students, and yield scores that are
more appropriate to use in determining the extent to which students have achieved educational
objectives.
Which of the following is the best explanation of why technical advances in farm equipment
led to an increase in urbanization?
a.
Fewer people were needed to run the farms.
b.
Fewer people were qualified to operate the equipment.
c.
More people could live in the city and commute to the farm.
d.
More people went to work at the equipment manufacturing plants.
Booklet Objectives
Most poorly-written multiple-choice test questions are characterized by at least one of the
following three weaknesses:

They attempt to measure an objective for which they are not well-suited

They contain clues to the correct answer

They are worded ambiguously
Well-written test questions (hereafter referred to as test items) are defined as those that are
constructed in adherence to guidelines designed to avoid the three problems listed above.
 

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