How To Write a Good Multiple Choice Question

person typing on a laptop symbolizing writing questions

During a training reinforcement course, we gather as much data as possible. This provides organizations with critical information to help them analyze their training, provide feedback to participants, and guide overall success.

Good Data Starts With Good Questions

As a leader, you're ultimately responsible for proper analysis that drives continuous improvement. Multiple-choice questions are best suited for measuring a learner's knowledge level. The participant’s answer is either right or wrong, allowing you to upgrade your training and reinforcement programs.

There are five types of multiple-choice questions:

1. Standard Questions

Standard multiple choice questions can vary from three to six answer choices. Text answers are listed in alphabetical order and numerical answers are ordered from lowest to highest.

2. Statement Questions

Questions with two statements is a type of proposition question. It's a difficult type of question, both to construct and to respond to. For best results, it's very important that you create a relationship between statements 1 and 2.

3. Rearrangement Questions

The third question type is the rearrangement question. Material is constructed according to certain principles of order. This type of question can only be used when there's data that can be put in chronological order. These questions test if the learner can handle the planning principles adequately. 

4. Combination Questions

Combination questions are similar to the rearrangement question. In this case, the data in one row should be combined with those in the other row.

5. True or False Questions

With true or false questions, a claim is made and the answer is either true or false.

Research shows that this type of question may not provide reliable data for two reasons:

  1. It's difficult to construct an answer that all learners will accept as completely true.
  2. Presenting a false statement is an unusual action in reinforcement since training is generally associated with transferring facts and probabilities.

After reading the introduction and question the participant has two possibilities:

  • The participant will formulate the correct answer for themselves by looking at the alternatives and then answering correctly.
  • The participant will indicate the correct answer based on the given alternatives.

Best practice is to formulate the question positively. Determining the correct answer is more difficult if the question is written with a negative slant. Always visually cue the participant when using a negatively formulated question by capitalizing, italicizing, or underlining the negative element. 

6 tips for creating great multiple-choice questions:

  • When formulating alternatives, start by writing down the best answer first.
  • Use learning difficulties and common errors made by participants as distractors.
  • Only use distractors you expect that participants will actually choose.
  • Formulate positive questions.
  • Highlight a negatively formulated question by underlining or italicizing the negative element.
  • Formulate direct questions.

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