It is a challenging task for teachers to write test questions, especially when a test is being used to measure certain learning outcomes. Take into account the following guidelines before you begin writing test questions.
Prepare Students For The Test By:
- Telling them the main purpose of the test.
- Specifying the content they should study for the test.
- Providing them with clear instructions on how to answer the test.
Consider All The Levels of Thinking.
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of thinking, beginning with the simple recall of information to the analysis and then the evaluation of the material.
Knowledge (Recall) – Comprehension (Understanding) – Application – Analysis – Synthesis – Evaluation (Creation)
The Guidelines You Need to Write Effective Multiple-Choice Questions.
Multiple choice questions or MCQs are less subject to guessing. In addition, they can be used to assess higher-level thinking. Consider the following guidelines to write effective MCQs
- Start the stems clearly presenting a single, clear problem or question in each stem.
- Avoid negative phrases or irrelevant material in the stems.
- Avoid clues to the right answer, using “all of the above” or “none of the above” in the alternatives.
- Ensure that distractions or alternatives are reasonable and presented in a logical order.
- Avoid lifting phrases directly from text or lecture. This becomes a simple recall activity for the student. Use new language items as frequently as possible.
- Write the correct answer before writing the distractors. This makes sure that you formulate one clearly correct answer.
- Choices should be similar in length and parallel in grammatical structure.
- Limit the number of choices. Research shows that three-choice items are about as effective as four-choice items.
- Distractors must be incorrect, but reasonable.
- Use words that are familiar to students when writing distractors.
- Don’t use exaggerations or extreme words when writing the questions or the distractors such as all, none, never, always, etc
Guidelines to Write True/False Questions.
True/False questions include a high probability of guessing the correct response so it is better to avoid them and find a more substantial way to ask the questions. If you think of using this kind of question,
- Don’t include any of the qualifying words such as “sometimes” or “always” because these words provide a clue to the correct answer.
- Use True/False questions for pre-tests to help identify what the learner doesn’t know.
Guidelines to Write Essay Questions
Essay questions should be used mainly to measure higher-level thinking skills such as analyzing, synthesizing and making connections. In these questions:
- Provide clear guidelines about the topic, grading or marking so that students can be well aware of how to write the essay.
- Provide students with a lot of practice on writing several short essays rather than on a long one.
- Allow students to write about various topics.
For More Guidelines to Write Effective Essay Questions, Read Practical Guidelines for Developing Good EFL Test Items
General Guidelines to Write Good Test Questions.
- Avoid ambiguous & confusing sentences or structures.
- Use appropriate vocabulary.
- Keep questions short and to the point.
- Write questions that have only one correct answer.
- Give information about the answer you desire or the items required for the correct answer.
- Don’t provide clues in the test to the correct answer for any question.
For more knowledge on preparing a good language test and writing effective test items, you can get my book:
What is This eBook About?
It is a practical guide to constructing effective test questions. It provides teachers with step-by-step instructions they need to go deeper, further and faster toward making a success in preparing effective classroom exams with ease and comfort.
Why Did I Create it?
I created this eBook because many teachers asked me frequently for a guide to help them write test questions in a more effective way.
What Benefits Can You Get From It?
In this eBook, I share my experience in creating successful exams over +20 years. It is the comprehensive guide that I wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.
After reading this guide, teachers will be able to:
- Establish the technical quality of a test by achieving certain standards.
- Use and develop effective test items following appropriate guidelines.
- Avoid common pitfalls in testing their students.
- Grade essay tests more effectively and fairly.
Who is This eBook For?
This guide is a valuable resource for any teacher who is interested in constructing test items that can capture effectively and fairly what a student knows.
It is the comprehensive guide that I personally wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.