Multiple choice is king

Computer based testing tools all offer the well-known and highly maligned multiple choice question, also known as the MCQ item type.

But did you know that testing (or examination) tools offer many other different item types? And that most of these are based on closed questions?

Candidates’ responses to closed questions can be automatically marked.

In my view this is a great example of the benefits that testing software offers versus the classic paper and pencil test.

Providing the candidate with the result of his or her test does not require manual intervention. The result can be automatically sent to the candidate or the institution that sponsors the test.

Types of closed questions

Examples of closed questions include:

  • Multiple Choice Single Response: One of the answers is correct
  • Multiple Choice Multiple Response: More than one answer is correct
  • Drag and drop (matching): Drag and drop an object in an image or piece of text
  • Ranking: Put lines of text or images in the correct order
  • Fill in the blank: Enter the correct word or combination of words into a text box
  • Hotspot: Place a marker on the correct spot in a picture, video or image
  • Numerical: Enter the answer to a numerical or mathematical question

All of these questions can be marked automatically.

But are all these item types used?

Well no, not really.

Have a look at this data that we pulled from Sisto:

 

Itemtype Volume  Share
Hotspot (single marker)

3,988

0,0%

Hotspot  (multiple markers)

4,248

0,0%

Fill in the blank (single)

37,043

0,1%

Fill in the blanks (multiple)

56,546

0,1%

Multiple Choice Single Response

38,692,327

90,2%

Multiple Choice Multiple Response

1,273,913

3,0%

Numerical

898,283

2,1%

Essay (computer based)

1,428,539

3,3%

Ranking

81,307

0,2%

Essay (on paper)

185,965

0,4%

Matching

10,930

0,0%

Speaking

231,100

0,5%

Upload

166

0,0%

Total

42,904,355

100,0%

Clearly the multiple choice item type is the most popular. By a long way.

So why do the technical specifications of tenders or requests for proposal often put such a strong focus on the types of items that a vendor is able to support?

It really is not as important as we are led to believe.

Take it from me: The multiple choice question is king!

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