MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS

      Each question consists of a stem, which supplies the central question or

problem. Each question contains responses, from which individuals must

choose the correct response. Incorrect responses are called distracters, and the

correct response is simply called the answer.

      Multiple-choice questions can appear in a variety of forms. The stem can

be a complete direct question as in the following:

Which of the following systems does the stomach belong?

A.    skeletal
B.    respiratory
C.    nervous
D.    digestive

Or, the stem can be in the form of an incomplete statement, as follows:

A neutered male horse is called a :

A.    gelding
B.     pinto
C.     palomino
D.     roan

Individuals are asked to identify the best response from among those listed.

      Multiple-Choice Questions can be used to measure achievement in all six

levels of the cognitive domain.

Constructing Multiple-Choice Questions-

The stem should be significant. The best stem for a multiple-choice question is

one that would make a good completion question if you didn't supply responses

to choose from. The stem should state the question or problem, sufficiently so

that only the right choice is justified as the answer.

      The following are the six cognitive levels that should be used in the

construction of your multiple choice questions. Construct one question from

each level for a total of 6 questions per week.


Knowledge/ Frying is a form of cooking by contact with

      A.    dry heat
      B.    hot oil
      C.    flame
      D.    steam

Comprehension/ A corner joint in which all crosscut surfaces are concealed is


      A.    butt
      B.    dovetail
      C.    miter
      D.    rabbet

Application/ If you have determined that you will need 10 six-foot lengths of 1"

x 6" stock, how many board feet will you need to buy?

      A.    15
      B.    30
      C.    60
      D.    120

Analysis/ The mare is to the stallion as the ewe is to the

      A.    ram
      B.    lamb
      C.    wether
      D.    mutton

                                                    Multiple Choice Questions, page 2
Synthesis/ If you were preparing a chocolate pudding using high heat, no

stirring, and unbeaten eggs, the result would be

      A.       lumpy texture
      B.       smooth texture
      C.       curdling
      D.       soft consistency

Evaluation/ Which of the following breakfast menus is nutritionally well

      A.       orange juice, frosted cereal, skim milk, apricot Danish
      B.       fried eggs, hash browns, donuts, coffee
      C.       tomato juice, coffee with cream, pancakes and syrup
      D.       orange juice, soft-cooked egg, whole wheat toast, skim milk


      Avoid all of the above and none of the above responses. Individuals can

assume that, if they find two responses that they know to be correct, the

answer has to be all of the above. One the other hand, if individuals can find

one answer that they know is correct, they can automatically rule out none of

the above.

• Use four responses in each question. A B C D The more responses there are

in an question, the less likely it is that process of elimination. For our

purposes, use only four responses. Do not use "A and B", "A and C" etc... as


• If the stem contains opinions, say so. If you have identified a specific

authority as the source of the opinion indicate who the source is so the

                                                      Multiple Choice Questions, page 3
respondents can use their knowledge of this authority's opinion as the basis for

their answer.

• Don't end your stem with a give-away. Sometimes, the last word in the stem

can give the answer away if you are not careful in writing your responses.

• All responses for a single stem should use the same grammatical form. If

your stem is an incomplete statement, each response should be stated in a

form that correctly completes the statement in the stem.

• All responses should be about the same length. Question analysis has

repeatedly shown that the correct response tends to be longer than the

• All distracters should be plausible.

• Avoid using negative statements in the stem. Research shows consistently,

however, that individuals do less well on multiple-choice questions that have a

negative statement in the stem.

• Most experts agree that it is less than ideal to emphasize negative learning.

• Never write a stem containing a double negative, especially a combination of

not and a negative adjective (e.g. not impossible or not unlikely).

• Avoid any pattern of response. People tend to put the correct response in the

middle of the list, apparently because they feel that putting it in the first or last

position will make the correctness of the answer too obvious.

• Don't give clues to one question in another. The catalytic converter in

common use since 1975, was invented by

When did the catalytic converter first come into common use?

• Fit the question to the objective it covers. One objective of this course is to be

able to apply knowledge. Your multiple-choice question should actually test the

ability to do just that.

                                                       Multiple Choice Questions, page 4

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