Writing Effective Multiple Choice Questions

How to Write Effective Multiple-Choice Questions

A multiple-choice question (MCQ) consists of two parts; a stem and several possible answers. A stem is usually in place to identify a specific problem. The list of possible answers ordinarily contains the correct solution, and if a student understood a particular concept, they should be able to select the right answer.

Probable answers that are not the correct ones are called distractors. Their main objective is to distract a student who might not have understood a specific concept. However, if the learner fully comprehends the tested elements, they are unlikely to select a distractor..

Strategies for Writing Multiple Choice Questions

If written well, multiple-choice questions can gauge students' understanding of a range of subjects. Here are some suggestions on how you can ensure that you have written the questions excellently.

Write Some Questions As the Semester Progresses

You do not have to wait until the last minute to start writing the questions. Writing MCQs is generally challenging and tiresome. It would help if you ensured that the writing process is continuous throughout the semester so that you have adequate time to update the questions during the semester if need be. You can dedicate an hour or two every day to focus on the questions.

Use a Language That the Students Are Conversant With

When writing the questions, it is best to use the lingo that you have been using when delivering the course to students. Foreign expressions are likely to confuse students, and they end up assuming that the distractors with the unfamiliar terms are wrong. Additionally, it is totally unfair for learners to be taught using a specific terminology, and then sit for an exam that has a different one.

Limit the Number of Negative Phrases

Negative wording confuses even the most intelligent students; hence, the learners can easily fail an exam if you use too many negative phrases. If you opt to use any negative wording in the alternatives or stem, it would be best to emphasize the negative words. You can do this by underlining, bolding, or writing them in capital letters.

Do Not Have Too Many Alternatives

Various researchers have established that fewer alternatives are excellent because they allow students to concentrate well on the exam. Three to five options per question are ideal since it is also challenging to formulate a lot of reasonable alternatives.

Ensure There Is Only One Best Answer

Students are knowledgeable, and those that prepared well for the test can tell when there is more than one correct answer. Distractors should be wrong answers, and should not leave room for learners to argue that there was more than a single right solution. Only include one best answer in the list of possible options.

Writing practical MCQs is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of dedication, patience, and using a language that learners can conversant with. However, this does not mean that you cannot write a perfect MCQ. It only implies that you should pay maximum attention when writing one. The steps above are a good starting point.

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