Tips for writing Test Questions

Assessments and timely examinations have always been a tool to determine the student’s level of understanding. Often there is misconception that examinations are only conducted to rank students and discover who is better than the other. Well, if you are one them who believes exams are merely about marks, then you are slightly mistaken! Although healthy competition to score better grades in class is a good motivating factor, there are other objectives that are achieved by way of assessments. Periodical assessments aim to develop the learner’s overall personality, improve their memory skills, and make them more confident individuals. It also instills a sense of responsibility amongst learners to take their studies seriously, this is the approach followed by IB schools across the UAE and all over the world.

Keeping this perspective in mind, the examiner needs to set the right ‘question paper’ by choosing topics that would add value to the student’s overall learning & development. Though the school curriculum is expansive the exam questionnaire can accommodate only a limited pool of important questions and hence it makes the job of the teacher rather difficult. In this current digital-age Markezy is a go-to assessment tool for many schools across the Middle East and especially in Dubai. Markezy is a hybrid platform that supports online assessments, as well as paper format and gives the teacher an option to choose questions from its own item bank. Through this article we aim to share some tips for executing impactful ‘questionnaire’ by choosing the appropriate question format.

Types of Examination Questions

Before we proceed, let us understand the different categories or types of questions generally asked in an exam paper. Well, there is no rulebook as such, but usually the format of the question paper is determined by the educational board department and schools need to follow the defined pattern. Broadly there are the following types of question formats; multiple choice questions, true or false, match the following, fill in the blanks, short answers, and essay answers. Let us elaborate on each of these types:

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

Multiple choice questions have one question with multiple options as answers. Usually the practice is to give four options where one of them is the right answer and the other three are incorrect. Students can select the right answer by simply clicking on the correct option. Here are few points to keep in mind while drafting MCQs:

  • Pick an important topic from the chapter which has a one word or one line as an answer
  • For the incorrect options you can use alternatives that seem similar, but are not considered as the correct answer
  • The aim is to clear the student’s misconceptions and drive down the sure-shot answer to remove any ambiguity
  • Make sure the four options are all either ‘one word’ or ‘statements’ to avoid confusion and maintain consistency
  • Consider giving ‘all of the above’ or ‘none of the above’ as one of the four alternatives if there are more than one correct or incorrect responses

Match the Following

Matching the correct options usually makes its way to kindergarten or elementary grade test papers. The student has to pair the correct options on either sides of the mid-line and draw a joining line from left column to the correct option in the right column. It tests the child’s memory with regards to knowledge recall and correct association. Children actually look forward to this section as it is easy to pair the options and they get the opportunity to score full marks. Teachers can refer to the following points while designing matching pointers:

  • Don’t go overboard and give too many matching items, keep it between 5 to 7 entries
  • Keep the cues on the left column crisp and short
  • Have more options on the right column as against the cues on the left to add a bit of a challenge to testing children’s concepts
  • Avoid having the paired options on the same row and shuffle the answers instead
  • Some ideas to include as match the following are; definitions and their correct term or say a formula and its solvable solution

Short Answers

Short answer questions typically test the student’s understanding of the concept which he explains in 2 to 3 sentences. As against the match the following and MCQ format, short answers do not give any option to the student and the child has to use his memory to reproduce the answers. This gives the student an opportunity to explain his understanding more creatively, but also be precise and brief with no room for fluff. Curating short answers needs the following points to be kept in mind:

  • Definitions can be considered for short answer questions
  • Find topics that do not need elaborate explanations
  • There should be no room for ambiguity in the question, so that the answer can be written precisely

Markezy offers a varied variety of assessment design options to make the teacher’s job easy. Educational institutions in the GCC have quickly adopted to this the trend and are streamlining their assessment & evaluation process for the dual benefit of students and teachers.

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