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Lesson 2: The Advantages And Disadvantages of Different Types of Test Questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Advantages

  • Can answer and score quickly.
  • Can cover a wide range of content.
  • Can objectively measure student achievement.

Disadvantages

  • May only test recognition, versus recall and comprehension of information.
  • May not meet the needs of the learner versus grade-oriented student.
  • May be time consuming to prepare, particularly when developing questions that assess higher levels of thinking.

Short Answer and Essay Questions

Advantages

  • Can assess more complex levels of learning.
  • They require students to use and develop their writing skills.
  • Guessing is minimized.
  • They take less time to prepare.
  • They may better meet the needs of the learning-oriented versus grade-oriented student.

Disadvantages

  • More time consuming and difficult to grade.
  • We tend to be influenced by our knowledge of the student and how we expect that individual to perform. In other words, grading may be more subjective versus objective.
  • Content validity may be low because not as many concepts can necessarily be tested.

Completion (Fill-in-the-blank)

Advantages

  • Guessing is minimized as compared to true and false or multiple choice items.
  • Can test many concepts.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to construct so that student can derive correct responses.
  • May be more difficult and time consuming to score.
  • The instructor may have to consider more than one correct answer.
  • They do not assess higher levels of learning well.

Matching

Advantages

  • Good method for testing dates, events, locations and persons.
  • Can test recognition of relationships.
  • Quick to answer, therefore can assess more content.
  • Easy and fast to score.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to assess student learning beyond the recall level.

True and False

Advantages

  • Good for assessing a large number of facts.
  • Easy to score.

Disadvantages

  • A high guessing factor. (In other words, the student has a 50-50 chance of guessing right without any knowledge of the content.)
  • May not discriminate between students' varying abilities as well as other types of test questions. (You can add an explanation column so that students can support their answers.)
  • Writing clear true-false items, without exceptions, can be difficult.

Lessons: Index, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, References

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