Thursday, February 5, 2009

Creating Good Test Questions

Adapted from Fair Isn't Always Equal by Rick Wormeli

Choosing Questions

Often tests measure how well a student can take a test rather than how well a student has mastered material. Thus, tests should consist of traditional questions as well as non-traditional questions such as sketches, diagrams, real-life situations, etc. In addition, you should also have an equal balance between forced choice questions (multiple choice, matching, true/false, fill in the blank) with constructed response questions such as short answers, drawings, or charts/graphs. Having different options to demonstrate knowledge ensures that you are measuring knowledge of content rather than test taking abilities!


Good teachers are typically very efficient and able to get a large amount of work done to a high standard in a short period of time. They find ways to make things easier on themselves without sacrificing quality. Allow students the same curesy by setting up their test in a manner that is easy to read and quick to respond to. For example, next to true and false questions write "T F" and have students circle one. Another tip is to reduce page flipping- put needed information and questions all on one page. Also, don't make questions more confusing by adding the word "not" to the question. "Which is not a month: Monday, June, August, September?" This causes students to have to spend more time on those questions and many students misread them. For essay questions, make them clear and give bullet points with expectations for the writing following the prompt for students to check to make sure they followed directions. If they get the question wrong it's because they didn't know the answer, not because they didn't follow directions. Also, consider giving smaller tests over time rather than one large test. It will save you and your students a lot of time and the tests will be more meaningful. Finally, don't have more than two or three similar questions- no need to be redundant! We have so little time with students, let's not make the test take any longer than it needs to or make it any harder on students.

Closing Thoughts

Please don't give timed tests! No one ever has timed tests in real life- it's a school thing.

Assess student the way you taught them. Don't ask them to do things on a test that they have never done before.

Make tests fun by including students' names, famous people (Miley Cyrus often make an appearance), and real-life situations. Students score better on tests after laughter so make them chuckle in their seats with some great questions!

On another note: Please check out my professor's new book!

No comments: