Multiple-Choice Questions Writing

Academic writing

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Sometimes, time is all we have, and along with that, time is all we don't have. Time is the relentless foe and the judge that values our deeds. This expression is especially true when you are taking multiple-choice questions that have to be done over a particular period of time.  Many students face the problem of passing multiple-choice questions exams with specialized tests that they have to take to complete a course. The more profound the course is, the more difficult a test will be. So, a student should recollect everything that his or her teacher or lecturer has told him/her during lectures because any of the already given information can be in tests. This is a rather difficult work for students, but what about those who compose them? Writing multiple-choice questions is also a very difficult  brainstorming task where a MCQ-writer has to consider practically all possible variables in order not to make a mistake.

Today, we are going to focus on multiple-choice questions writing rules, tips, guides and something more. So here we go!

Multiple choice questions refer to a part of the educational curriculum where such assignments always have a certain aim that they are called to achieve. As a rule, students pass widespread tests that contain questions with several (usually three or four) answers listed below a stem, and only one of these answers is the correct one. MCQs have the following structure:

  • Stem (In a form of question, proposition, conception, fact, etc.)
  • Correct Answer (Sometimes, there are may be several correct answers, but only one of them is acceptable);
  • Distractors (These are false statements or answers brought in to distract from the correct one);

MCQs are not always written as questions since they may be presented in a form of true or false constructions, or a student should read a sentence and find an appropriate ending to it, and so on and so forth. We can go on and on, but the thing is that a type of MCQs depends on the end purpose and subject. Usually, these assignments are written by teachers or professors who specialize in a certain field of study. Being a professional, it’s not that difficult to single out the necessary amount of information to be tested.

multiple choice questions writing process

MCQs are given to assess accurately students’ knowledge, to decrease the level of guessing (however, in some cases, it’s inevitable), to increase the level of validity and credibility of students’ knowledge, to show students their major mistakes and weak spots. However, each reason is unique and depends on a topic, subject, and teacher. Below you will find some basic tips and rules of composing multiple-choice questions that are workable in each particular case.

  1. Define what type of MCQs you are about to write. You should know that every category of MCQs requires the specific amount of time to complete the task. So, if you compose very long questions stems with six possible answers to them, do not expect your students to complete the quiz in twenty or something minutes.
  2. Define the topic of MCQs. It is very important that multiple-choice questions were subject-oriented. Students should already know and master a topic that you’ve decided to test.
  3. First, write down all the questions that you’ve prepared for this test. After that, you should state correct answers, and only then, you are welcome to write down all the distractors.
  4. Remember that you should not compose overlong question stems for the quiz. Students may lose the key thought along the way, so write medium length sentences and make them understandable, but bear in mind that students should have known this topic.
  5. Do not use unknown words or vocabulary in the MCQs. Your students may be taken aback because of the words that seem unfamiliar to them. Try to stick to this rule, especially if you suppose to compose the MCQs assignment in ornithology, nothology, or any other discipline.
  6. Another workable tip is try not to suggest answers to previous questions stems in the next stems. The main reason for this is because many students actually expect this kind of thing to happen. You may not even notice when you give a tip to the previous question in a question or two. So, if you want to avoid your own cheating, remember about this rule.
  7. Revise your work and give it to your peers or colleagues to proofread it. It is the essential part of work. Mainly because it helps you trace all possible grammar and semantic mistakes in this task. Ask opinions of your colleagues about a finished work. What do they think about the material? Sometimes, they can see something very important that you’ve missed.

Well, in the end, we can advise you to test these MCQs on somebody that you know, but who is not your student. Take it as a beta-testing mode of your MCQs. We hope that now you know the process of writing better multiple-choice questions items, and you won’t wonder “how to write MCQs?”. And that’s all for now, our dear folks! Happy quizzes writing to you!

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Academic writing

  1. I hate MCQ! It's boring(

  2. I really want to do well in cmesihtry but i am a student who learn by visually and love when im being though from the basic to complex. I have found your presentation to be helpful please do continue as there are so many student like my self that want to do well but lack resources and grounded teachers.

  3. "You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak for anything tougher than suet; yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak. Pray, how did you do it?" "In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law, and argued each case with my wife and the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw has lasted the rest of my life." Lewis Carroll

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