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?
Or, the stem can be in the form of an incomplete statement, as follows:
A neutered male horse is called a :
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.
MULTIPLE-CHOICE QUESTIONS FOR SIX COGNITIVE LEVELS
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
Comprehension/ A corner joint in which all crosscut surfaces are concealed is
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?
Analysis/ The mare is to the stallion as the ewe is to the
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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
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
RULES FOR CONSTRUCTING MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS
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
• 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
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respondents can use their knowledge of this authority's opinion as the basis for
• 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.
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