The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items

julie-smallPosted by Julie Chazyn

I read a very informative blog entry on the CareerTech Testing Center Blog that I thought was worth sharing. It’s about multiple-choice questions: how they are constructed and some tips and tricks to creating them.

I asked its author, Kerry Eades, an Assessment Specialist at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology teacherEducation (ODCTE), about his reasons for blogging on The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items. According to Kerry, CareerTech Testing Center took this lesson out of a booklet they put together as a resource for subject matter experts who write multiple-choice questions for their item banks, as well as for instructors who needed better instruments to create strong in-class assessments for their own classrooms. Kerry points out that the popularity of multiple-choice questions “stems from the fact that they can be designed to measure a variety of learning outcomes.” He says it takes a great deal of time, skill, and adherence to a set of well-recognized rules for item construction to develop a good multiple-choice question item.

The CareerTech Testing Center works closely with instructors, program administrators, industry representatives, and credentialing entities to ensure skills standards and assessments meet Carl Perkins requirements, reflect national standards and local industry needs. Using Questionmark Perception, CareerTech conducts tests for more than 100 career majors, with an online competency assessment system that delivers approximately 75,000 assessments per year.

Check out The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items.

For more authoring tips visit Questionmark’s Learning Café.

One Response to The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items

  1. Stuart Schopf says:

    While writing questions for the Washington State Science Assessment our focus was on writing good distracters. Good distracters have these three traits, they show misunderstanding, they show an understanding that is related to the wrong topic, or they show little to now understanding. Finally and interestingly was the order of choices being based on the length of the response so that the shortest response was written first and the longest response was written last. Most often questions would be thrown out or rewritten based on the distracters.

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