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Guidelines to Test Preparation. Guidelines for Writing Essay Questions. Be sure your question really tests the learning outcome of interest Each item should have a clear statement of the problem any restrictions on the answer Construct a model answer content of an ideal answer

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Guidelines to Test Preparation

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Test Preparation

guidelines for writing essay questions
Guidelines for Writing Essay Questions
  • Be sure your question really tests the learning outcome of interest
  • Each item should have
    • a clear statement of the problem
    • any restrictions on the answer
  • Construct a model answer
    • content of an ideal answer
    • important organizational features you expect
essay questions
Essay questions


Tell what you know about the Pearl Harbor Incident.

Why do you think we dropped 2 bombs on Japan?

essay questions4
Essay questions


Remembering that the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, describe the reactions of Americans, including the actions taken by American officials. Be sure to write one complete paragraph with 4-5 sentences.

advantages to essay questions
Advantages to Essay Questions
  • Measures higher mental processes, such as the ability to think, to understand large concepts, to organize information, and to express ideas clearly and concisely.
  • Stimulates creativity and freedom of expression
  • Requires a great deal of time to read and score
  • Unreliable sampling of student achievement
  • Tends to be vulnerable to unreliable scoring
  • Handicaps students who write slowly
guidelines of writing multiple choice questions
Guidelines of Writing Multiple Choice Questions

1. Incomplete statements should be meaningful.

Poor Example

The United States of America

a. has more than 200,000 people.

b. grows large amounts of rubber.

c. has few good harbors.

d. produces most of the world’s automobiles.


What is the largest state east of

  • the Mississippi River?
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas


2 be precise not confusing
2.Be precise, not confusing.

What is the largest (in square miles) state east of the Mississippi River?

a) Georgia

b) Pennsylvania

c) New York

d) Florida

e) Texas

other guidelines
Other Guidelines
  • Length of alternatives should be consistent
  • Distracters should be plausible
  • Alternatives should be arranged uniformly
  • Grammatically consistent
  • 4 -5 alternatives
Avoid using “all of these” or “none of these”
  • Have only one correct answer
  • Stem should mean the same to everyone
      • for example


  • Where is the most active volcano?
    • Mount Kilimanjaro
    • Mount St. Helens
    • Mount Rainier
    • Kilauea Crater
    • Mount Redoubt


  • What is the most active volcano in the U.S.?
    • Mt. Redoubt in Alaska
    • Mt. Shasta in California
    • Mt. St. Helens in Washington
    • Kilauea Crater in Hawaii
    • Mount Rainier in Washington

Bonus Point – Why do you think there are five volcanoes

in the western part of the United States?


Understanding of definitions is better tested by furnishing the name or word and requiring choices among alternative definitions than by presenting the definition and requiring choices among alternative names or words.

-- for example



  • A major city in Georgia is
  • a. Macon
  • b. Dalton
  • c. Albany
  • Social Circle
  • Athens
advantages to multiple choice
Advantages to Multiple Choice
  • Answered quickly
  • Scored quickly
  • Test a lot of material in a short time
  • Questions easy to write once you learn the format
  • Can be used for motivation, review and evaluation
  • Measure at recognition level
  • Scoring is mechanical
  • Little way to spot problems of students
  • Really good questions are hard to develop and require a lot of time to prepare
matching items
Matching Items
  • words and definitions
  • historical events and dates
  • novels and their authors
  • tools and their uses
  • problems and solutions
  • elements and symbols
  • causes and effects
  • obvious/natural relationship
  • basis of matching should be made clear to students
  • one list should be 50% longer
  • the shorter list should not contain more than 7-8 items
  • Can judge simple relationships between similar ideas, facts, etc.
  • Relatively easy to score
  • Range of material tested can be broad
  • Guessing reduced
  • Cannot measure understanding of concepts
  • Measures memorized content
  • Difficult to avoid giving clues
  • Too many items on list make it confusing.