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Multiple choice questions

Multiple choice questions

Multiple choice questions have two parts; a stem and a set of alternatives. On one hand, the stem represents the question while a set of alternatives stands for the possible answers to the question. When coming up with multiple choice questions, your focus should be on ensuring that you come up with questions that measure up to the student’s ability.  If you are planning to design multiple choice questions one day, remember the following key sections.

General strategies

Multiple choice questions are hard to design so the best way is for you to write them throughout the term.  While writing the questions, always use simpler and familiar language. Use the terminologies that exist in the course.  Also, emphasize on the choice of words. Avoid using negative words because many students find them confusing. The negative wording can easily make students who are familiar with the material unable to comprehend it. In other words, multiple choice questions are used to test the student’s ability to remember but not on what they cannot remember.

Designing the stems

At this stage, ensure the purpose of the question is known. Don’t leave your students guessing for answers.  The students should be able to answer the questions without looking for options. Also, exclude unnecessary information from the stem. Such information only confuses your students and they may end up wasting a lot of time on one question. This is interpreted to mean that you should include all the relevant information in the stem.

Coming up with alternatives

Here, use fewer alternatives as possible; between three to five alternatives.  When drafting your answers, ensure that one of the answers is the best. Research shows that all the answers need to be correct but only one should be the most appropriate. Finally, make sure that all the distractors are appealing, to enable the student to locate the correct answer easily.

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