How to make an effective MCQs

We are no experts on creating good online tests. All we know is that MCQ is short for multiple choice quiz. We also know we were better at MCQs in school than at True/False questions. We wereeffective MCQs not good guessers. But we’re lucky to have a lot of customers who know their way around a good multiple-choice quiz. Therefore, we’re tapping their wisdom to share some of the basics of effective MCQ creation.

First, some basic tips that are common across all expert advice:

  • Keep possible answers short. Longer answers can become more confusing to the test taker.
  • All potential answers should be roughly the same in length. Learners may think the longest answer is the correct one without thoroughly reading all options.
  • Write the correct answer first and then the two to four wrong answers of similar length and style. Then put the correct answer in a random spot on the list.
  • Avoid negatives such as not and except for in the question. They can also cause useless confusion.

Digging in further
The University of Washington says questions can often be unintentionally misleading or open to interpretation. That may result from wordiness. Therefore, always have a colleague or two take your test before putting it out there for leaners.

The University of Texas says all wrong answers, aka distractors, should be as plausible as the right answer to anyone who doesn’t know the correct answer. However, the goal is not to trick students. It is to see what they’ve learned and uncover ways to improve instruction. Therefore, keep wording consistent. If you introduce terms not used during instruction, you are presenting unnecessary challenges at test takers.

Queens University says questions should align with training outcomes. They should directly reflect the activities and assessments used throughout training. Further, effective MCQ questions should be weighted to correlate with the attention given their topics during class.

Good vs. bad
Finally, the University of Illinois gives examples of good vs. bad multiple-choice questions. They also list some advantages of MCQs vs. True/False or other quiz types. For one, MCQ scoring accuracy is 100%. True/False quizzes are more prone to successful guesses, and essay quizzes count on the scorer being objective and properly interpreting quiz answers.

GoSignMeUp/Learning Stream offers an automated testing component for effective MCQs that can be included with the post-class process, whether synchronous or synchronous, live in-person or live online. Just like all content delivery methods, MCQs can also be part of an automated string that includes issuing credits and certificates of completion. Want to know more? Like the Four Tops sang back in the olden days, reach out.