How multiple-choice questions are designed? How to answer them properly

Multiple-choice tests can be a quick and easy way to assess learning. Multiple-choice questions can be quickly monitored, providing students with immediate feedback. Furthermore, well-written multiple-choice questions can go beyond testing rote facts to assess higher cognitive skills.


A survey creator can enquire multiple kinds of survey questions to obtain the necessary responses from the person taking the survey. Close-ended questions are the most commonly used in surveys of these variations.


Multiple-Choice Questions are divided into the following sections:


When creating Multiple Choice Questions, remember to keep the following factors in consideration:


Have a good idea of the ideas you want to wrap in the question and avoid writing questions with ambiguous attributes.


Form questions that assess respondents on conscious and subconscious levels, such as fact-based, circumstantial, or analysis-based questions.


A multiple-choice question has a stem, correct answer/s, and distractors.


1. A stem, which is the question, i.e. an issue or a partial statement – Create a crisp, grammatically error-free, and simple stem with necessary information.


2. The correct response – This should be appropriate to the stem and should not include too many qualifiers such as “always” and “some.” When the stem is an unfinished statement, use phrases as choices.


3. Other incorrect responses are known as “distractors” – Create four distractors that should be in line with the right answer. These distractors should typically be popular misunderstandings held by your target audience.


Types of Multiple Choice Questions with Examples:


The primary division of these questions is determined by the number of answer choices available to respondents when responding to the survey. So, the two main question types are single choice questions and multiple choice (multiple answers) questions.


Single Select Multiple Choice Question:


Single select questions require a respondent to choose only one answer from a specified set of responses with at least two or more options. They are one of the most familiar types of questions and are accurate at evaluating a user’s primary preference among a set of options. They are closed-ended questions that assist respondents in making decisions from options they may not have considered previously. They are extremely simple to respond to and can be answered on handheld devices such as mobile phones, Ipads, tablets, and similar.


Multi-select Multiple Choice Questions:


Multiple choice questions are equivalent to multi-select multiple-choice questions. However, there is a small difference in this type of question, that it can have more than one right answer. As a survey creator, you can include as many options as you want. The choices in multi-select questions are mutated each time they come up. However, in non-permuting multiple-choice questions, the choice order is fixed. For such questions, checkboxes are used, and the participant must select the most suitable answers from the given options.


Drop Down Menu Multiple Choice Questions:


Multiple Choice questions in surveys include a radio button for respondents to choose from. In this questionnaire, however, the answers are displayed in a drop-down list. When you click the drop arrow, multiple answer options appear, from which the person can select the most suitable answer option that responds to the specific question being asked. Drop-down questions are simple to analyze because they allow you to choose only one answer option from a list of numerous choices.


Star Rating Multiple Choice Question:


The participant can rate a question or rank items using stars with this question type. A higher rating is indicated by more stars and vice versa. The total value of the stars for each option yields an overall average answer. These questions are useful when you want to find out whether or not the participants like the product or service. These question types are commonly used in surveys and are extremely simple to respond to because respondents simply click on the stars to answer the question.


Text Slider Multiple Choice Question:


Everyone enjoys sliders! Text slider questions are a great option to open-ended questions because they help participants gain some clarity of the questions asked because the answers are already available to the question and the participants only need to use the slide option to point to the most appropriate response. This question type can be used in most surveys, and one of its best features is that participants can select the neutral option and have no viewpoint at all.


Push to Social Multiple Choice Question:


The Move To Social multiple choice questions permits you to send optimistic survey feedback to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Yelp. This question type can help you with your company’s branding and marketing. If you got negative feedback, you can always capture comments for the type of feedback and make sure you take the necessary steps as soon as possible.


Numeric Slider Multiple Choice Question:


In a numeric slider multiple choice question, the participant can slide and answer the question by giving it a score ranging from 0 to 100. In other sayings, the preferences will take the form of numerical values. The lower the value, the more dissatisfied the customer is, and vice versa.


Thumbs Up/Down Multiple Choice Question:


To know the participants’ opinions, ask a binary rating question and use the thumbs up or thumbs down alternative. This choice basically involves a thumbs up or thumbs down image that help define the rating choice. It enables participants to make a quick decision between liking and disliking. If the participants do not want to choose from either of the available multiple choices, it is recommended that the survey creator inserts a text box for additional comments.


Smiley Rating Multiple Choice Question:


Participants can rate a statement on a visual scale of stars using the Star Rating question. Each symbol on the scale is given a weight, so a weighted score was calculated in the Analyze Results section. The scale in the star rating question is generally set to 5 stars, but a survey creator can add more stars to the scale.


Multi-Point Scale Matrix Table Multiple Choice Questions:


Multi-point matric table questions permit you to inquire about multiple items in one question. A Rating Scale question, also known as a Likert Scale question, is a type of Matrix question in which you can assign weights to each answer choice. This question can be used to group questions with the same answer alternative scale.


Matrix Table Multiple Choice Question with Check Boxes:


A multi-point scale question is a grouping of several individual questions. A survey creator can save a lot more time and storage this way because the objective of multiple individual questions is served in one question. Checkboxes are used in multi select matrix to allow the user to select multiple options.


Spreadsheet-based Multiple Choice Questions:


Multiple-choice questions based on spreadsheets allow participants to fill in the text about the answer choice they have made. These question types typically include options for the participant to like or dislike extremely, as well as write why they liked or disliked the particular choice and make suggestions.


A multiple-choice question (MCQ) is made up of two parts: a stem that recognizes the question or problem, and a set of options or possible answers that include a key, which is the ideal answer to the question, and a number of distractors, which are feasible but incorrect answers. Participants respond to MCQs by selecting the option that best answers or complete the stem. There are numerous benefits to using MCQs for evaluation. One significant advantage is that the questions are simple to mark and can even be scored by a computer, making them an appealing assessment method for large classes. Well-designed MCQs allow testing for a wide range of content and targets while also providing an objective measure of student ability.


The following MCQ design recommendations are divided into three sections:


(a)General strategies


(b)Designing stems


(c)Designing alternatives.


General strategies:


1. Write questions throughout the term: Exams with multiple-choice questions are difficult and time-consuming to create. You will find it much easier if you write several questions each week, perhaps after a lecture when the course content is still memorable in your mind.


2. Instruct students to select the “best answer” rather than the “correct answer”: By doing so, you recognize that the distractors may have some truth to them and discourage students from arguing that their answer is correct as well.


3. Use familiar language: The terminology used in the topic should be used in the question. If assessing knowledge of a foreign language is one of the aims of the question, prevent using unnecessary expressions or terms. Distractors with unfamiliar terms are more likely to be dismissed as incorrect by students.


4. Avoid giving verbal association clues from the stem in the key: Students are more likely to choose the correct answer if the key contains words that are very similar to those found in the stem.


5. Avoid trick questions: Questions should be written in such a way that students who are familiar with the content can find the right answer. This concept is violated when questions are designed to lead students to a wrong response through misleading phrasing or by focusing on an otherwise insignificant detail of the solution.


6. Avoid negative wording: Students frequently fail to notice negative wording, which can be troubling. As a result, even students who are familiar with the material frequently make errors on negatively phrased questions. In general, don’t include any negatives in the stem or options. When using negatives, make sure to highlight the keywords by putting them in capital letters and bolding or underlining them. As an example:


The University of Waterloo does NOT have a building of this name?


a.) B.C. Matthews Hall

b.) Carl A. Pollock Hall

c.) I.L. Neilson Hall

d.) Douglas Wright Engineering Building


Designing stems:


1. Express the entire problem in the stem: When designing the item, consider whether students will be able to answer the question without staring at the choices. This clarifies the question’s objective.


2. Include all relevant information in the stem: Do not repeat data that can be included in the stem in each of the options. This makes the choices easier to read and understand, and it allows students to respond to the question more quickly.


3. Remove unnecessary wording and information from the stem: Unimportant information in the stem perplexes students and wastes their time:


A number of books have been published about the University of Waterloo. These books fall into various genres such as photographic histories, biographies of prominent people involved with the University, and accounts of the history of individual departments. Among them was a book whose author is known as “Simon the Troll”. What is the title of this book?


a.) Dreaming in Technicolor

b.) Water Under the Bridge

c.) Of Mud and Dreams

d.) Images of Waterloo


The majority of the stem is not required to answer the question. A more appropriate question would be:


What is the title of the book about Waterloo written by “Simon the Troll”?


e.) Dreaming in Technicolor

f.) *Water Under the Bridge

g.) Of Mud and Dreams

h.) Images of Waterloo


Designing alternatives:


1. Keep the number of alternatives to a minimum: Use three to five options per question. According to research, three-choice items are about as effective as four or five-choice items, owing to the difficulty in coming up with plausible distractors.


2. Ascertain that there is only one best answer: Avoid having two or more appropriate options, one of which is “more” correct than the others. The distractors should be inappropriate answers to the stem’s question.


3. Make the distractors enticing and plausible: If the distractors are unrealistic, students will find the right answer too easily, even if they have little understanding. When testing for key term and idea acknowledgment, keep the distractors as similar in length and type of language as the right answer. Distractors should represent common errors made by students when testing conceptual knowledge.


Waterloo Counselling Services provides workshops about:


a.) cooking skills

b.) hockey refereeing

c.) *study skills

d.) fire safety and prevention


Even if they didn’t know the answer, students are unlikely to select options a, b, or d. A better question would include plausible connections between the stem and the distractors:


Waterloo Counselling Services provides workshops about:


a.) preparing for marriage

b.) presentation skills

c.) * study skills

d.) psychotherapy research


4. Check that the choices are grammatically compatible with the stem: Read the stem and each option aloud to ensure that they are grammatically correct.


5. Arrange the options in some meaningful order: When possible, arrange the options numerically, chronologically, or conceptually. A question with a better structure is easier to read and reply to:


During what period was James Downey the president of Waterloo?


a.) 1990-1996

b.) 1991-1997

c.) 1992-1998

d.) *1993-1999


6. Distribute correct responses at random: The test should have roughly the same number of correct answers as a’s, b’s, c’s, and d’s (assuming there are four choices per question).


7. Avoid using the phrase “all of the above”: If “all of the above” is an option and students know that two of the options are correct, the answer must be “all of the above.” If they know one of them is incorrect, the answer cannot be “all of the above.” A student may also read the first choice, determine that it is correct, and be misled into selecting it before reading the rest of the options.


8. Avoid using “none of the above”: The option “none of the above” does not evaluate whether the student knows the correct answer, only that the distractors are incorrect.


9. Avoid using words like always, never, all, or none: Most students understand that few things are universally true or false, so distractors with these words are frequently dismissed.


10. Avoid overlapping options: Make the alternatives by making them mutually exclusive. It should never be assumed that if one of the distractors is true, the other distractor must also be true.


11. Do not ask questions like, “Which of the following statements is correct?”


There is no clear question being asked, and the options are frequently unclear. Such questions are best presented as True/False questions.


Why Use Multiple Choice Questions?


Multiple-choice tests are appealing to instructors for a variety of reasons. Multiple-choice tests are very useful in terms of time management, especially in large class settings. Other benefits include:


Versatility: Multiple choice test items can be written to evaluate a variety of learning outcomes, ranging from basic recall to application, analysis, and evaluation. However, because students are selecting from a set of potential answers, there are obvious limitations to what can be tested with multiple-choice questions. For example, they are ineffective for assessing students’ ability to organize their thoughts, articulate explanations, or generate creative ideas.


Reliability: The extent to which a test consistently measures a learning outcome is defined as reliability. Multiple-choice questions are less susceptible to guessing than true/false questions, making them a more reliable method of evaluation. When the number of MC items focused on a single learning objective is enhanced, the reliability improves. Furthermore, the goal scoring linked with multiple choice test items eliminates the problems linked with scorer inconsistency that can plague the scoring of essay questions.


Validity: Validity is the extent to which a system measures the learning outcomes that it claims to measure. Because students can typically answer a multiple choice item much faster than an essay question, multiple-choice items-based tests can typically focus on a relatively broad representation of course material, improving the validity of the assessment.


How to answer Multiple Choice Questions:


1. Analyzing the Questions


(a)Follow the exam instructions: Some multiple-choice exams will require you to write directly in the exam booklet. Others will require you to write your responses in a separate answer key. Follow the instructions on the exam or as provided by your instructor.


(b)Take your time reading the question: Begin by slowly and carefully reading the exam question. If you’re taking a physical exam, cover the possible answers below the question with a blank sheet of paper. This will allow you to concentrate solely on the question.


1.Read the question more than once to ensure that you understand it. Take your time with the question and don’t rush through it.


(c)Examine the question’s wording: Look for negative phrases in the question, such as “Select an answer that does not…” Check the question for a judgement phrase such as “Choose the most right answer” or “Choose the best choice.”


1.Analyze the question for any phrasing that asks for multiple answers, such as “Choose more than one answer” or “Choose two of the four options.”


(d)Create your own response to the question: Check to see if you can answer the question on your own before looking deeper into the possible answers. Consider the question and provide your own answer based on your prior knowledge.


1.Doing so can assist you in coming up with an answer before you look at the multiple-choice options. The answer you come up with is most likely one of the choices for the question.


2.Don’t be concerned if you can’t come up with your own answer. You can use the answers provided to determine the correct answer to the question.


(e)Keep an eye out for qualifiers: Qualifiers are words that express specific circumstances or conditions. These will assist you in reducing the number of possible answers. There are several types of qualifiers:


1.Indications of time: before, after, while, always, never

2.Superlatives: most, least, most common, fastest, the best, the only

3.Conditionals: each time X happens, if X happens, unless X, assuming X


2. Answering the Questions Effectively


(a)Go over all of the possible answers: After you’ve processed the question, go over all of the options presented to you. The majority of multiple-choice exams have four to six possible answers per question. In some cases, you may be given only two options.


1.Take your time and read through all of the possible answers. Avoid skimming or skipping over any possible answers. This will allow you to make an educated decision about the appropriate answer to the question.


(b)Remove answers that appear incorrect: Place a small mark next to answers that appear false right away. You may be aware that one or two of the answers are inaccurate, or you may have a strong suspicion that they are incorrect. Remove any answers that appear to be incorrect based on your analysis of the question.


1.Look for possible answers that include the words “always,” “never,” and “none of the above,” as these are usually incorrect.


2.When reviewing the answers, try not to imagine that your instructor is trying to trip you up with deceptive or confusing options. Most teachers will not give you “trick” answers like this.


(c)Look for a response that completely answers the question: Consider whether the answer you’ve chosen completely answers the question. Avoid answers that only partially answer the question, as they are likely incorrect. Trust your instincts and choose an answer that fully answers the question and appears correct to you.


1.For example, you may be undecided between two possible answers to the question. Experiment with both answers to the question. Read the question aloud to yourself and put each answer at the end. Choose the one that appears to be the most accurate to you.


(d)Answer the questions in the correct order: Do not skip around on the test and answer the questions you are familiar with first. Skipping around can be a waste of time, especially if you’re taking a timed exam. Try to answer each question one at a time and in order to ensure that you have answered them all to the best of your ability.


If you get stuck on a question, go slowly through it. Put a star or mark next to it if you’re really stumped so you know to come back to it at the end of the exam.


(e)Do not leave any questions unanswered: Doing so will result in a loss of points on the exam. In some cases, leaving the questions blank will result in a zero or a point deduction from the instructor. Choosing an answer based on your judgment and knowledge may earn you one or two extra points on the exam.


1.When in doubt about an answer to a difficult exam question, use your best judgment and select the best answer from the list of options.


3. Preparing For a Multiple Choice Exam


(a)Prepare for the exam: If you want to do well on a multiple-choice exam, you should study ahead of time. Make a study schedule for the exam and lots enough time to study. Study during the week preceding the exam or several days before.


1.Exam cramming will cause you a lot of tension and worry. If you cram the night before the exam, you may not retain information well, resulting in a poor grade.


(b)Ask the teacher for examples of past exams: If you have previously struggled with multiple choice exams, ask the teacher if they can provide practice tests for the course. You can also request examples of questions from previous exams.


1.To prepare for the test, review previous exams and sample questions. Examine the structure of the questions as well as the answers provided. Take several practice tests to improve your performance on multiple-choice exams.


2.If your instructor refuses to provide you with past exams, join a group discussion so you can study with others. You can also hire a study tutor to assist you with your exam preparation.


(c)Get enough sleep and eat healthy: The night before the exam, get at least eight hours of sleep. This will make sure that you are sharp and ready for the exam. You should also eat a nutritious meal the night before the exam and the morning of the exam.


1.Start your day with a high-protein, vitamin-and-nutrient-rich breakfast, such as eggs, toast, and fruit, or yogurt and granola.


(d)Do a relaxing activity before the exam: Doing last-minute revisions will only add to your stress. Instead, talk to a friend about something other than the exam, or listen to soothing music.


(e)Study with trusted friends and avoid distractions such as parties, which can cause you to fail and distract you from the test you are studying.