Types of assessment questions

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Types of assessment questions Adapted from http://www.utc.edu/Administration/WalkerTeachingResourceCenter/FacultyDevelopment/Assessment/test-questions.html (accessed 8th October 2012)




Short answer

Essay / Report




Good for

Knowledge level content

Evaluating student understanding of popular misconceptions

Concepts with two logical responses

Knowledge level

Some comprehension level, if appropriately constructed

Application, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation levels

Application, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation levels

Application, synthesis and evaluation levels

Knowledge, synthesis, evaluation levels

Knowledge, application, synthesis, evaluation levels

Application of knowledge, skills, abilities


Audience response systems (ARS)


Terms with definitions

Phrases with other phrases

Causes with effects

Parts with larger units

Problems with solutions

Question/Right answer

Incomplete statement

Best answer

Restricted response: more consistent scoring, outlines parameters of responses

Analytical essay

Narrative essay

Reflective essay

synthesis and evaluation; increasing level of creativity in answers

Reports – more structured but encourage analysis and development of ideas



Online / webfolio

Paper / folder of evidence

Laboratory practicals


Defence of work



Dragon’s Den style competition



Can test large amounts of content

Students can answer 3-4 questions per minute

Maximum coverage at knowledge level in a minimum amount of space/prep time

Valuable in content areas that have a lot of facts

Very effective

Versatile at all levels

Minimum of writing for student

Guessing reduced

Can cover broad range of content

Easy to construct

Good for "who," what," where," "when" content

Minimizes guessing

Encourages more intensive study - student must know the answer vs. recognizing the answer

Students less likely to guess

Easy to construct

Stimulates more study

Allows students to demonstrate ability to organize knowledge, express opinions, show originality

Useful as an instructional tool-allows students to learn at the same time as testing.

Allows teacher to give clues to facilitate learning.

Useful to test speech and foreign language competencies.

Can assess compatible skills: writing, documentation, critical thinking, problem solving

Can allow student to present totality of learning.

Students become active participants in the evaluation process.

Measures some skills and abilities not possible to measure in other ways


They are easy

It is difficult to discriminate between students that know the material and students who don't

Students have a 50-50 chance of getting the right answer by guessing

Need a large number of items for high reliability

Time consuming for students

Not good for higher levels of learning

Difficult to construct good test items.

Difficult to come up with plausible distractors/alternative responses

May overemphasize memorization of facts

Take care - questions may have more than one correct answer

Scoring is laborious

Can limit amount of material tested, therefore has decreased validity.

Subjective, potentially unreliable scoring.

Time consuming to score.

Time consuming to give and take.

Could have poor student performance because they haven't had much practice with it.

Provides no written record without checklists.

Can be difficult and time consuming to grade

Cannot be used in some fields of study

Difficult to construct

Difficult to grade

Time-consuming to give and take


Avoid double negatives.

Avoid long/complex sentences.

Use specific determinants with caution: never, only, all, none, always, could, might, can, may, sometimes, generally, some, few.

Use only one central idea in each item.

Don't emphasize the trivial.

Use exact quantitative language

Don't lift items straight from the book.

Make more false than true (60/40). (Students are more likely to answer true.)

Need 15 items or less.

Give good directions on basis for matching.

Use items in response column more than once (reduces the effects of guessing).

Use homogenous material in each exercise.

Make all responses plausible.

Put all items on a single page.

Put response in some logical order (chronological, alphabetical, etc.).

Responses should be short.

Stem should present single, clearly formulated problem.

Stem should be in simple language

Avoid "all of the above”

Avoid "none of the above."

Make all distractors plausible/homogeneous.

Don't overlap response alternatives

Avoid double negatives.

Present alternatives in logical or numerical order.

Make each item independent of others on test.

Way to judge a good stem: students who know the content should be able to answer before reading the alternatives

Need more than 3 alternatives, 4 is best.

When using with definitions: supply term, not the definition-for a better judge of student knowledge.

For numbers, indicate the degree of precision/units expected.

Use direct questions, not an incomplete statement.

If you do use incomplete statements, don't use more than 2 blanks within an item.

Arrange blanks to make scoring easy.

Try to phrase question so there is only one answer possible.

Provide reasonable time limits for thinking and writing.

Avoid a large choice of questions. Try to set a limited number of Qs that test the breadth or depth of the learning outcomes.

Give definitive task to student - compare, analyse, evaluate, etc.

Use checklist point system / clear marking rubrics to score with a model answer: write outline, determine how many points to assign to each part

Score one question at a time - all at the same time

Give a good brief.

Ensure the student is clear of what is expected prior to the start of the task.

Check whether the student can hear you properly.

Test recording equipment before you begin.

Be clear about the type and volume of evidence that should be included in the portfolio. The more selective students can be, the easier it may be for the marker to identify where the strengths and areas for development are.

Build levels of autonomy as the programme develops. At first you may give students a lot of support in rehearsal or practice sessions. Later in their studies, it may be up to the students to organise their own rehearsal, practice or preparation elements.

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