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November 2012
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TD Magazine

Seven Tips for Writing Good Multiple-Choice Questions

Intelligence2
One of the ways learning objectives can be measured is through a knowledge-based or written test.

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"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 www.astd.org/infoline.

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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