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Multiple Choice Questionnaires

MCQs are composed of a question, often called a stem, and multiple possible answers, including incorrect answers (distracters) and a correct answer (key).


MCQs can lead to difficulties for students who speak English as a second language or those with specific learning difficulties due to the wording of questions and possible answers.


How to write inclusive MCQs?

MCQs do's and dont's
Consider what it is you are trying to test - knowledge? understanding? Have more than one key (unless this is specified to students)
Phrase questions as clearly and concisely as possible, avoiding complex language. Use questions without piloting them on colleagues first.
Include common information in the stem rather than repeating it in the options. Include superfluous or irrelevant information in the stem.
Ensure any negatives in the stem are clearly highlighted Use double negatives, or negatives in the stem too often



Text Box: Example 1: In which critique does Kant discuss the nature of the aesthetic in detail?  a.	The Critique of Pure Reason  b.	The Critique of Practical Reason  c.	The Critique of Judgment   d.	The Critique of Belief  Here information is repeated in all the options needlessly. An improved question would place common information (“The Critique of) in the stem rather than the options.

Text Box: Example 2: The greatest challenge to equality is:  a.	Lack of awareness  b.	Prejudice  c.	Lack of resources  d.	Lack of legislation  This question is subjective. Each response could be argued for and such a question would require a written response. This question could be enhanced by amending it to ‘According to John Doe (2009) the greatest challenge to equality is:'

Text Box: Example 3: Which one of the following was not a French colony?:   a.	Morocco  b.	Aruba  c.	Senegal  d.	Madagascar   Note how the negative in the stem is clearly identified.

For more see the HE Academy's How to Write Effective MCQs




Last updated 22 September 2016 by Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (Email).