As a teacher or school faculty member, you’ve no doubt given a lot of thought into your testing procedures. The debate of how best to test the knowledge of students is likely one that will never end, as new research steers us in different directions and innovative strategies promote new ways of thinking.
That being said, there are some constants in the testing world, and one of those is multiple choice testing. There will alway be a place for multiple choice testing, which is why Precision Data Products offers high-quality test sheets to educators. Multiple choice has a variety of benefits, but its flaws also can’t be ignored. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of multiple choice testing.
One of the most obvious benefits of multiple choice is the ease of grading for educators. We know that as much as you want to comb through every student’s answers and pick their brain to see how they’re thinking, there just isn’t enough time to give that kind of individualized attention to hundreds of students.
That’s why testing machines changed the academic world. Automated grading technology, such as bubble answer sheets that run through machines, allow tests to be graded extremely quickly and efficiently. It effectively allows educators to make their tests much beefier and comprehensive, without adding to the amount of time it will take to grade.
Multiple choice is fantastic for statistical analysis. Because answers are objective, you can take a good hard look at the data. An educator can see which questions are easiest, which are hardest, which aren’t written well, and so on. Using this data, they can diagnose problem areas in their curriculum where students might not be internalizing information as well as they should.
There is no room for interpretation when you’re going through the answers on a bubble answer sheet; questions are either right or wrong, with no in-between. This avoids the pitfalls of bias or preconceived notions when it comes to subjective grading, such as free-response questions.
In a multiple choice question, students can successfully guess the answers of questions. While the odds are overwhelmingly low that they would guess the right answers over and over, it is nonetheless a misrepresentation of how informed they actually are about the subject.
Badly Written Questions
The biggest problem with multiple choice testing is the effect that badly-written questions can have. There are several consequences that poor questions can have. Students can often extract the answer to one question from the phrasing of another, or easily guess the correct answer because the choices are so obviously wrong. Poorly worded questions can also unintentionally confuse students, causing them to choose the wrong answer even if they truly knew the information.
One unfortunate side effect of multiple choice questions is that, of the four answers, three of them must be wrong. The problem is that, with certain questions, the wrong answers can cause a student’s mind to run to different avenues that they didn’t consider before. There are often occasions where a student knows an answer, but they panic and give thought to all of the “wrong” answers, tripping them up and directing their train of thought to the wrong places.
One could argue that it’s advantageous to have “tricky” questions that intentionally cause students to question their instincts, but it’s a fine line to walk, and if done incorrectly, it can be a cheap move that devalues the student’s experience.
Quality Test Sheets for Your School
At Precision Data Products, we believe that there is value in a well-written multiple choice test, which is why we offer quality test sheets, such as bubble answer forms that you can run through your testing machines. We know that these can be extremely advantageous to both you and your students; a great multiple choice exam can comprehensively test your students, and provide invaluable data and statistics for educators that allows them to improve their curriculum.
For a wide variety of testing sheets that encompass a wide variety of different applications, browse the Precision Data Products online store!