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How to Write Multiple Choice Questions on Your Own

How to Write Multiple Choice Questions on Your Own

As a student, you probably have faced tests and maybe even struggled with them. You could even wonder who created them. And we can answer that question – creating a test is not an easy task and lots of hours are spent each year to create a writing exam for you.

And if you are going to write a test on your own, it can be pretty challenging to do it from scratch without knowing the basics. Any test should be well-written without any “bugs”. 

And below, you will find out what a good test should include and how to write good multiple-choice questions. Let’s start!

What Is a Multiple-Choice Question

As you can understand from its name, a multiple-choice question offers you several options, one or several of which is true. Good tests should include some mandatory items:

  • Address essential content;
  • Are well-structured;
  • Contain a clear question;
  • It contains several good answering options. 

It is not difficult to create such a question that would contain a couple of good options to choose from but it is necessary to remember the basics of creating such questions.

Step 1. Critical thinking

When writing multiple-choice questions, you should show the comprehension of the test and critical thinking. Such tasks are often criticized for recall of knowledge. To avoid this, you should make learners interpret facts, explain cause/effect, give an evaluation to the situation, predict results, and make conclusions.

Step 2. Write questions during your term

Creating a test is a time-consuming process and you will not be able to do it in one day or night. You should make notes each week, maybe after a lecture when the material is still in your mind and you remember everything well.

Step 3. Best answers instead of correct answers

Very often, the distracting options are also true, so you should tell students to choose the best answer but not the correct one. 

Step 4. Use the course vocabulary

You know that the same things may be called with different terms but you should avoid this when creating the list of multiple-choice questions. Your students should see only terms they are familiar with.

So, go back to step 2 and make notes during your term. It will help you use the same terminology as during your course. Do not use unknown impressions or terms, this will only distract students.

Step 5. No trick questions

Avoid questions that lead students to choose an incorrect answer. This can be done via misleading phrases or highlighting unimportant details. Students who have studied the material should be able to find the correct answer without problems.

Step 6. No negative wording

Negative wording may confuse students and even those who know the material can make mistakes. You should not include negative words in the options or stem. If there is no way to avoid such questions, you should highlight the negative part by capital letters, for example, NOT. 

Multiple Choice Questions Structure

Any good multiple-choice question consists of three key components, including:

  • Stem. The stem of the test question is the main information and the so-called background of the question.
  • Lead-in question. This is the question itself.
  • The list of options. The list of the options should contain 3-5 variants of possible answers. 

You should always keep in mind these three elements of all multiple-choice questions and you will be able to write an outstanding test on your own.

Some Helpful Writing Tips

You know how a multiple-choice question should look like and what it should include. However, here are some more tips you should use when working on the list of such questions.

  • All the answers can be found in the stem. The stem consists of the relevant and necessary information to answer the question. No matter what questions you are going to pose, your student should be able to reply correctly without any options. It means that you should create your stem such way that any student who knows the material can answer it without problems and options; 
  • No ambiguous questions. Vague questions only confuse people and they are lost in them. A priory, they will most likely fail. The signs of the ambiguous questions are the usage of “may”, “always”, “never”, “may happen”, the negative questions, or questions telling that all options are correct except for… 
  • You should always remain specific when writing your questions, give a clear picture to students and don’t confuse them;
  • The questions should be lead-in. You should end each of the stems with a lead-in question. It is crucial to create exactly lead-in questions because the question should be clear and understandable to every student;
  • Only one answer. The stem is finished and now you should create the list of answers. It is crucial to make only one answer to the correct one! Do not provide a couple of correct answers on your list. One correct and three incorrect options are a perfect combination. 

Avoid Common Mistakes

There are also lots of mistakes students usually do when creating their multiple-choice questions. To avoid them, just pay attention to our list and it will be easier for you to create your test.

  • Make your answers strategic. It means that all of your options should belong to one category, i.e. if you create a test in medicine, you should make sure all options to be a diagnosis only or only types of therapy. It would not make sense if you ask for the right diagnosis and provide clinical interventions as options;
  • Don’t make the correct answers too long;
  • Don’t use “all of the above” options;
  • Review your test. Reviewing your test after you have written it is a must because you may find so many mistakes when you look at it in some time with a fresh view. It concerns not only test writing but any academic writing in general;
  • Ask someone else to read your questions. As well as the previous tip, this one may be applied to any academic writing. Peer review is really helpful and will make your writing much easier. When you ask someone else, your colleague or another student to check your list of questions, you will get an objective opinion and if something needs to be improved, you will know it for sure. 

The Examples of Multiple-Choice Questions

We hope that now you have a much better idea of how to write multiple-choice questions. Just stick to the above-mentioned rules and recommendations and you will make it work out. 

Remember to eliminate too many words and all the irrelevant information from your stem. It will only lead to confusion and a waste of students’ time.

Below, you will find some good multiple-choice questions examples that will create an even better idea of how you should build your tests. 

Example of a bad question:

The University of Waterloo has inspired lots of people to write many books in different genres, including biographies of famous people connected to the University, photographic histories, and many others. One of the authors of such books is called “Simon the Troll”. How that book is titled?

a. Water under the bridge

b. Life of Waterloo

c. Living in mud and dreams

d. Dreaming in Waterloo

Do you see how much unnecessary information that stem contains? So, here is how the question should sound.

Example of a good question:

How is the book about Waterloo University by “Simon the Troll” titled?

a. Water under the bridge

b. Life of Waterloo

c. Living in mud and dreams

d. Dreaming in Waterloo

By the way, the right answer is Water under the bride!

Conclusion

Nearly every person faces different tests containing multiple-choice questions at least once in his or her life. And students probably do it the most often. You know well what it is like to pass the test like that.

But creating a test of your own is a real challenge. It may be really exciting to think of it and sometimes, it may seem to be a real puzzle. But once you start doing it, you will be more and more into it. 

Creating tasks for other students is a unique task and lots of you really admire it. Following our tips and tricks on how to write multiple-choice questions properly will help you complete that not easy task perfectly and get the best grade. 

However, if you are one of those students who have a part or full-time job and have no time to devote to such an assignment, you can always ask our professionals for help. Our native English-speaking experts will help you not only with your multiple-choice questions but also with any academic task and paper.

Any assignment from our professionals is 100% unique, plagiarism- and error-free. And an unlimited number of revisions will be a great bonus for you.

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