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Multi-Choice Versus Descriptive Examinations

By Robert W Brown


Examinations using multi-choice questions can be automatically graded in a fraction of the time and cost of manually grading descriptive questions. There is much controversy concerning the efficacy of multi-choice questions in determining student ability, particularly in synthesis. Students also find such examinations confronting and generally prefer the chance to "express themselves." Random guessing can result in an undeserved grade. Negative points assigned to each question according to the number of choices, fixes this problem but students are scared of earning "negative points." Multiple-choice questions are very much more difficult to write than descriptive questions. However, considerable experience has been built up in the nature and use of multiple-choice examinations in all the areas mentioned. Written properly, multtle-choice examinations correlate strongly with assessments by descriptive tests. In this paper, a sampling of rules and techniques of writing multichoice-questions is given together with the experience gained using multi-choice tests

Year: 2007
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