Advantages and Disadvantages of various Types of Test Questions
It’s good to regularly review the advantages and disadvantages of the most commonly used test questions as well as the test banks that now frequently provide them.
- Easy and quick to score, by hand or electronically
- Could be written so they test a wide selection of higher-order thinking skills
- Can cover lots of content areas on a exam that is single nevertheless be answered in a class period
- Often test literacy skills: “if the student reads the question carefully, the answer is not hard to recognize even though the student knows little concerning the subject” (p. 194)
- Provide students that are unprepared opportunity to guess, and with guesses that are right, they get credit for things they don’t know
- Expose students to misinformation that may influence subsequent thinking about the content
- Take some time and skill to create questions that are(especially good
- Quick and easy to score
- Regarded as “one of the very unreliable types of assessment” (p. 195)
- Often written to ensure a lot of the statement is true save one small, often trivial bit of information that then helps make the whole statement untrue
- Encourage guessing, and reward for correct guesses
- Fast and simple to grade
- Quick and easy to write
- Encourage students to memorize terms and details, in order for their comprehension of this content remains superficial
- Offer students a way to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities in many ways
- Could be used to develop student writing skills, specially the capability to formulate arguments supported with evidence and reasoning
- Require extensive time to grade
- Encourage use of subjective criteria when assessing answers
- If utilized in class, necessitate quick composition without time for planning or revision, which can lead to poor-quality writing
Questions provided by test banks
- Save instructors the right time and energy taking part in writing test questions
- Use the terms and methods which can be used in the book
- Rarely involve analysis, synthesis, application, or evaluation (cross-discipline research documents that approximately 85 percent of the relevant questions in test banks test recall)
- Limit the scope of the exam to text content; if used extensively, may lead students to conclude that the materials covered in class is unimportant and irrelevant
We have a tendency to believe that these are the only test question options, but there are a few interesting variations. The article that promoted this review proposes one: focus on a question, and revise it until it can be answered with one word or a phrase that is short. Do not list any answer options for that single question, but affix to the exam an alphabetized a number of answers. Students select answers from that list. Some of the answers provided may be used more often than once, some might not be used, and there are many more answers listed than questions. It’s a ratcheted-up version of matching. The test is made by the approach more challenging and decreases the opportunity to getting an answer correct by guessing.
Remember, students do should be introduced to your new or altered question format on an exam before they encounter it.
Editor’s note: the menu of pros and cons is available in part through the article referenced here. Moreover it cites research evidence relevant to many of these benefits and drawbacks.
Reference: McAllister, D., and Guidice, R.M. (2012). This is only a test: A machine-graded improvement towards the multiple-choice and true-false examination. Teaching in advanced schooling, 17 (2), 193-207.
Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 28.3 (2014): 8. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.