Guidelines for writing mc items and Essay items

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Guidelines for writing MC items and Essay items

MC Items

  • It is recommended that the stem be a direct question
  • The stem should pose a clear, definite, explicit, and singular problem
  • Include in the stem any words that might otherwise be repeated in each response
  • Items should be stated simply and understandably, excluding all nonfunctional words from the stem and alternatives

MC Items …

  • Avoid interrelated items
  • Avoid negatively stated items
  • Avoid making the correct alternative systematically different from other options
  • If possible, the alternatives should be presented in some logical, numerical or systematic order
  • Response alternatives should be mutually exclusive

MC Items …

  • Make all responses plausible and attractive to the less knowledgeable or skillful student
  • The response alternative “None of the above” should be used with caution
  • Make options grammatically parallel to each other and consistent with the stem
  • Avoid irrelevant cues as “common elements” between the correct option and the stem
  • In testing for understanding of a term or concept, it is generally preferable to present the term in the stem and alternative definitions in the options.

Essay Items

  • Determine extended-response or restricted-response (the latter is referred to structural essay items)
  • Determine whether emphasis is on content, expression or both
    • It is recommended that an analytic method be applied in marking essay items, partitioning the response into a series of points, each of which is specifically defined
    • if expressive skills are not part of the instructional results, it is not ethical to evaluate them

Essay Items …

  • Essay times should be relevant and limited in scope
  • Contain clearly defined tasks
    • Write an “ideal” answer to verify the tasks
  • Teachers should almost never rely exclusively on essay items to access the total learning outcomes

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