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Writing Good Multiple Choice questions

Assessment (quiz questions, exams, practical’s, activities etc) should be directly aligned to the stated learning objectives. And the content of the training should also align directly (and support) the learning objectives. This helps ensure that the assessment is valid (that you are testing knowledge/skills/abilities based on what was taught).

Content covered in an instructional setting is not (necessarily) content learned, so the evaluation is a measure of (1) how well the instruction supports learning, and (2) how well students recall, apply, implement what was learned. Multiple choice, or multiple answer questions can be suited to assessing knowledge, comprehension, analysis, but on the other hand are not useful for assessing physical skill/ability or environment-level decision making that requires physical context.

The following provides a basic overview for writing multiple choice questions.

The anatomy of a question

The stem (poses the question)
A researcher who is working alone spilled a small sample of radioactive material onto the floor. Which finding has the greatest implication for their safety?
The distractors (are the options that are not correct)

  1. The researcher notes that the material was liquid and contaminated their lab coat
  2. The researcher notes that the material is airborne and they may have breathed it in
  3. The researcher notes that the material was solid and remained intact
  4. The researcher notes that the material was enclosed


Example 1: Stem is meaningful:
What characteristic is consistent in mitochondrial genomes across species?

Example 2: Stem is NOT meaningful:
Which of the following statements are true?

Tips to construct an effective stem

 How to Construct Effective Answer Options