Assessing by multiple choice question (MCQ) tests
Edwina Higgins and Laura Tatham, Manchester Metropolitan University
This teaching resource note sets out to:
- explain the features of multiple choice questions (MCQs) and suggest possible uses of them in your teaching
- explore the advantages and disadvantages of multiple choice assessments and suggest mechanisms to counter potential problems
- provide guidance on planning MCQ tests and tips for writing MCQ questions and feedback
- give examples of MCQs with suggestions for improvement
- give suggestions for further reading and resources
It is organised around a set of 12 frequently asked questions (FAQs), plus a guide to further reading (Note: question examples shown based on the law as at 1 September 2002.)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is an MCQ?
- What could I use MCQs for?
- What are the features of MCQs?
- Does adopting MCQ assessment mean ‘dumbing down’?
- Are MCQ scores unrealistically high?
- Can students guess their way to success in an MCQ?
- Can MCQs test oral and written skills?
- Does using MCQ assessment encourage rote or surface learning?
- What should I think about before I design an MCQ test?
- How can I write effective MCQs?
- How can I provide effective feedback for my MCQs?
- What can I learn from the student responses to the MCQs?
- References and further reading
Last Modified: 4 June 2010