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Online tests or quizzes consist of a series of questions which are usually completed online in real-time (i.e. during a short pre-defined time period). Commonly associated with MCQs (multiple choice questions), they can include a range of question types including fill-in-the-blank, true/false, calculations, hotspot and short answer questions. 

Typically used to…. 

  • assess ‘lower order’ thinking skills such as acquisition of knowledge, basic comprehension and application of some skills (e.g. calculations) 
  • for revision purposes. Students’ marks can be provided automatically, giving immediate feedback on progress. 
  • for diagnostic assessment. Immediate feedback enables students and lecturers to track a students’ progress and identify areas for attention. 

Key considerations when preparing for tests/quizzes

Tests/quizzes are typically a form of objective testing where there is a specific correct answer. They are particularly useful as a revisionary or diagnostic tool as they can quickly test student knowledge and provide students and staff with immediate feedback (due to automatic marking features). Many digital testing tools also enable statistical analysis of students’ test scores and/or responses to particular questions thus providing staff with an insight into areas where students may need further support. In a digital context, tests/quizzes can be undertaken remotely or in a face-to-face environment (for example as part of a real-time exam which may be invigilated).

When using tests and quizzes in a digital context, keep the following points in mind  

  • What is the purpose of the test? Is it the most appropriate way to assess student learning outcomes in this instance?
  • Are you intending to use the test for formative or summative assessment purposes, or both? (Online tests can be very useful for both purposes, with immediate feedback providing a useful revisionary aid.)
  • What question types will you use? This will depend on the purpose of your test. For example, question types with a single correct answer (such as MCQs) are useful for assessing recall and knowledge acquisition. Open answer questions are useful for assessing higher order cognitive skills such as differentiation and judgement.
  • What criteria will you use to assess students’ performance in the test? This is particularly important for open-answer questions where responses are often qualitative and require academic judgment at the point of marking.
  • Consider how you phrase your questions: writing effective questions can be more difficult than it looks!
  • Have you provided students with clear guidelines on how to complete and submit the test? Check what institutional supports and guides are provided for this and share with your students in advance. Consider providing students with a sample test which they can use for practicing.
  • What time window will you give students to complete the test?
  • Will they be required to complete it remotely or in a face-to-face environment?
  • How will you aim to ensure the academic integrity of the test? For example, will you randomise the presentation of questions for each student (easily achieved in many online testing tools).
  • Will you place additional security settings on the test (such as password protection and/or restricting access to specific IP addresses.)


Trinity-supported tools:  

External tools (unsupported by Trinity):  

A student perspective on tests/quizzes


Writing effective multiple choice questions WORD DOC 2,469KB or PDF 413KB
This resource from Academic Practice, Trinity College Dublin, provides a useful overview of key considerations when writing MCQ-based tests and discusses how to align MCQs with learning outcomes. 

Create Blackboard tests and surveys
This website provides practical guidelines and instructions on how to set up and customise tests/quizzes within your Blackboard module(s). 

Objective tests (Short-answer and Multiple choice questions)
This resource from the University of Warwick gives a useful summary of key considerations when designing effective online test questions. 

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