Assembling the Multiple-Choice Examination

A few recommendations about assembling the examination:

  1. MCQs must be checked much more carefully than essay examination questions because it is so easy for students to misinterpret them. Make sure the distracters as well as the answer are grammatically consistent with the stem. It is a very good idea to have a colleague or two check your questions. Ambiguities, answers which fail the ‘generally true' rule, etc. are often more obvious to someone who is not as close to the content.
  2. Group the questions according to MCQ format. I put one-choice completions first followed by the relationships formats and put multiple-choice completions last. I do this because the ‘easier' format types warm the students up for the more difficult questions. Some students choose to do the more difficult ones first, however, so clearly there is no consensus on this arrangement.
  3. Within each format, I arrange the questions according to topic as much as possible (analysis, synthesis and evaluation questions often cross topics) and usually arrange them chronologically from the beginning of the year. I do this primarily because students say it helps them focus on the questions but there is no evidence to suggest that it alters their performance.