November 2012
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Seven Tips for Writing Good Multiple-Choice Questions

Thursday, November 8, 2012

One of the ways learning objectives can be measured is through a knowledge-based or written test.


"Although true-false tests are the easiest to construct, they provide that old 50 percent guessing opportunity, thus not truly testing against the objectives," writes Toni DeTuncq, president of THD & Company, in the November Infoline, "Demystifying Measurement and Evaluation."

Yet multiple-choice tests are more difficult and time consuming to construct. Here are seven tips to help you develop effective multiple-choice questions.

  • When possible, state the stem as a direct question rather than as an incomplete statement.
  • Make sure alternatives are mutually exclusive.
  • Present choices in some logical order, for example chronological, most to least, or alphabetical.
  • Create one correct or best response for each item.
  • Strive for at least four alternatives for each item to lower the chance of the test-taker guessing the correct answer.
  • Avoid answers to one item that may help test-takers figure out the correct answer to another item.
  • Avoid the use of "All of the above."

These tips were adapted from the November 2012 Infoline, "Demystifying Measurement and Evaluation," available at

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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