Benefits and drawbacks of Different Types of Test Questions

It’s good to regularly review the advantages and disadvantages of the most widely used test questions together with test banks that now frequently provide them.

Multiple-choice questions

  • Quick and easy to score, by hand or electronically
  • May be written in order that they test a wide array of higher-order thinking skills
  • Can cover lots of content areas on a single exam and still be answered in a course period

  • Often test literacy skills: “if the student reads the question carefully, the clear answer is not hard to identify no matter if the student knows little about the subject” (p. 194)
  • Provide students that are unprepared possibility to guess, along with guesses which can be right, they get credit for things they don’t know
  • Expose college essay writing service students to misinformation that may influence thinking that is subsequent this content
  • Take some time and skill to create questions that are(especially good

True-false questions

  • Quick and easy to score

  • Regarded as being “one of the very most unreliable types of assessment” (p. 195)
  • Often written in order for all of the statement is true save one small, often trivial little bit of information that then helps make the statement that is whole
  • Encourage guessing, and reward for correct guesses

Short-answer questions

  • Quick and easy to grade
  • Quick and easy to write

  • Encourage students to memorize terms and details, making sure that their understanding of this content remains superficial

  • Offer students a way to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities in lots of ways
  • Can help develop student writing skills, particularly the power to formulate arguments supported with reasoning and evidence

  • Require time that is extensive grade
  • Encourage usage of subjective criteria when answers that are assessing
  • If utilized in class, necessitate composition that is quick time for planning or revision, that may end up in poor-quality writing


Questions provided by test banks

  • Save instructors the time and effort associated with writing test questions
  • Utilize the terms and methods that are utilized in the book

  • Rarely involve analysis, synthesis, application, or evaluation (cross-discipline research documents that approximately 85 percent associated with questions in test banks test recall)
  • Limit the scope associated with the exam to text content; if used extensively, may lead students to conclude that the material covered in class is unimportant and irrelevant

We tend to believe that these are the only test question options, but there are interesting variations. This article that promoted this review proposes one: Start with a question, and revise it until it can be answered with one word or a phrase that is short. Usually do not list any answer alternatives for that single question, but attach to the exam an alphabetized a number of answers. Students select answers from that list. Some of the answers provided may be used over and over again, some is almost certainly not used, and there are more answers listed than questions. It’s a ratcheted-up version of matching. The approach makes the test more challenging and decreases the chance of getting an answer correct by guessing.

Remember, students do must be introduced to your new or altered question format before they encounter it on an exam.

Editor’s note: The list of pros and cons is available in part through the article referenced here. It cites research evidence relevant to some of those pros and cons.

Reference: McAllister, D., and Guidice, R.M. (2012). This is only a test: A machine-graded improvement towards the multiple-choice and examination that is true-false. Teaching in advanced schooling, 17 (2), 193-207.

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 28.3 (2014): 8. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.

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