5 general things that impede writing good test items
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5 General Things that Impede Writing Good Test Items. Unclear directions Ambiguous statements Unintended clues Complicated syntax Difficult vocabulary. Unclear Directions. Assume that test takers are novices. Explain if a student can use the same answer more than once.

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5 general things that impede writing good test items
5 General Things that Impede Writing Good Test Items

  • Unclear directions

  • Ambiguous statements

  • Unintended clues

  • Complicated syntax

  • Difficult vocabulary

Unclear directions
Unclear Directions

  • Assume that test takers are novices.

  • Explain if a student can use the same answer more than once.

  • Writing test directions for early elementary students can be difficult.

  • Directions should not be an after thought

Ambiguous statements
Ambiguous Statements

  • Students may come up with an incorrect answer because of the ambiguity, even if they know the correct answer.

  • An ambiguous True-False item:

    • There is substantial research evidence that many teachers become hostile toward students because of their low self-concepts.

  • Teacher may fail to recognize the problem because to them, it may be obvious.

Unintended clues
Unintended Clues

  • Teacher inadvertently tosses in clues that permit students to come up with the correct answer.

  • Example:

    • The annual award received by a musical recording artist for outstandingly successful recordings is called a:

      A. Oscar

      B. Emmy

      C. Obie

      D. Grammy

Complicated syntax
Complicated Syntax

  • Items are written that incorporate convoluted syntax.

  • Example of a True-False item:

    • Having slain Hector, the feared Trojan warrior, Achilles, who was considered by all to be the most valiant of the Greeks, was destined to perish because of a flaw which, incurred while being immersed in the River Styx as an infant, he possessed.

  • A teacher who writes a question like this needs a workshop in “lean sentence structure.”

Difficult vocabulary
Difficult Vocabulary

  • Students should not have to use a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to take the test!

  • Make the test so that all the takers can understand the vocabulary, not only the ones that come from highly verbal families.

Binary choice items
Binary-Choice Items

  • Provides only two choices and asks students to select one.

  • True-False items are the most common.

  • By chance alone, a student who knows nothing at all can get 50% right.

  • Some teachers have tried to modify it by asking test takers to correct a false statement.

Multiple binary choice items
Multiple Binary-Choice Items

  • A cluster of items is presented, requiring a binary response to each in the cluster.

  • Example:

    • Imagine that a dozen of your advanced students completed a 10 item Right-Wrong quiz and earned the following number-correct scores:


    • Now, indicate whether each of the following two statements is true of false:

      • The range of the students’ scores is 5.0.

      • The mode for the set of scores is 8.0.

Binary choice item writing guidelines
Binary-Choice Item Writing Guidelines

  • Conceptualize Binary-Choice items in pairs, not singly.

  • Phrase the item so that a superficial analysis by the student suggests a wrong answer.

  • Rarely use negative statements, and never use double negatives.

  • Don’t include two concepts in the same statement.

  • Have an approximately equal number of items representing the two categories being tested.

  • Keep similar the length of items representing both categories being tested.

Matching items
Matching Items

  • Consists of two lists of words or phrases that require the student to match an item from the first list to an item in the second list.

  • Imperfect match- more choices in column B than in column A so that there are more choices of answers than questions.

    • Increases the effectiveness

Matching item writing guidelines
Matching Item Writing Guidelines

  • Use relatively brief lists, and place shorter words or phrases at the right.

  • Employ homogeneous lists in a matching item.

  • Include more responses than premises.

  • List the responses in a logical order.

  • Describe the basis for matching and the number of times a response may be used.

  • If possible, place all premises and responses for a matching item on the same page.

Multiple choice items
Multiple Choice Items

  • Most popular type of question.

  • Stem- question or incomplete statement

  • Alternatives- possible answers

  • Distractors- wrong answers

Multiple choice item writing guidelines
Multiple Choice Item Writing Guidelines

  • The stem should contain a self-contained question or problem.

  • The stem should contain as much of the item’s content as possible

  • If possible, avoid negatively stated stems.

  • Be sure that only one alternative represents the correct or best answer.

  • Each alternative should be grammatically consistent with the item’s stem.

Multiple choice item writing guidelines continued
Multiple Choice Item Writing Guidelines Continued

  • Avoid creating alternatives whose relative length provides an unintended clue.

  • Make all alternatives plausible.

  • Randomly use each alternative position for correct answers in approximately equal numbers.

  • Unless important, avoid alternatives such as “none of the above” or “all of the above.”