Poorly written multiple choice questions are not only useless, but they can also actually confuse students and even misinform. In some instances, although the question is well written, it concerns a topic that is so esoteric as to be a waste of time. So before you even begin to write multiple choice questions ask yourself the following most important questions:
- Is the knowledge being tested important?
Once you have written a question about a worthwhile topic, it is worth running through the following checklist to ensure that your question is appropriate.
stem and lead-in
- can it be shortened?
- ideally, does it pass the cover test?
- is the lead-in clear?
- does it follow grammatically into all alternatives?
- can you include repeating words from the answers?
- have you avoided acronyms?
image choice and preparation
- are the images clear and show the abnormality/structure?
- is the image needed to answer the question?
- if they are bespoke images, have you used the PowerPoint/Keynote templates?
- are they plausible?
- is one answer unambiguously the only right one?
- can they be shortened?
- are they testing the same topic (homogeneous)?
- have you avoided clues (repeated words, etc)?
- are measurements consistent and different enough to make one answer definitely the correct one?
- ideally, have you avoided acronyms?
- are they logically ordered? (e.g. A-Z, increasing, regionally)
- in most instances, have you explained why the correct answer is the correct one?
- in many instances, have you explained why the distractors are incorrect?
- if an image is included, is the original case credited in the explanation?
- have you included relevant articles not just for the correct answer but also the distractors?
- do the related articles support the question and answer? (if not you need to edit the article)
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