Guide to Creating
Quality Assessments

Question Types and Amounts

Selecting Question Types 

Automatically graded question types include multiple-choice, multiple-answer, true or false, matching, and fill-in-the-blank questions. Most authors will plan for multiple choice questions, and implement other question types only when doing so suits the content covered.

  • Multiple-answer questions are useful variations of multiple-choice questions. Keep in mind, though, that these questions are more difficult for students to answer correctly since they must choose all of the correct answers to receive full credit/points.
  • True or false questions are most beneficial in pre-testing. However, these questions often do not measure student competency in a meaningful way. Use this question type sparingly to ensure your quizzes provide students the best opportunities to assess their skills.
  • Matching questions are most beneficial for testing recall of large numbers of items (for example, Spanish vocabulary). Remember that each matching question must include at least three answer options.
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions are useful for checking students’ recall of individual items. However, these questions should be limited to one fill-in-the-blank item each; multiple fill-in-the-blank items in a single question have a stronger likelihood of error.
    • Consider if students will be able to type in each response exactly as the right answer.
    • Provide additional acceptable answers that you anticipate students might submit (e.g., moon, the moon, Moons) and write clear instructions. 

For lower-division courses, plan to use primarily multiple choice, multiple response, and fill-in-the-blank question types.

For upper-division or graduate courses, essay questions can be a powerful assessment tool. We recommend creating a bank of auto-graded questions for student practice or assessment, and including essay questions as assignments or in the instructor resources.

Determining Number of Questions

Note: In order to provide students with robust question pools, we recommend including at least 20 possible questions for each practice assessment or quiz.

For non-STEM disciplines, plan at least 5 questions per sub-heading of content. For example, if your chapter on Eastern Religions has sub-sections covering Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, plan for fifteen questions for the chapter. Increase the number to twenty by creating five questions that encourage students to compare, synthesize, or differentiate among these content areas.

For problem-based courses, plan for 10 questions per chapter. The goal is to cover the formulas, equations, or reactions that are most essential for students to know. From there, generate variations of those ten questions in one of two ways:

  1. To create basic algebra questions with automatic variables, see the Quick Guide to Complex Quizzes.
  2. If equations use elements other than basic algebra (multivariable calculus, statistics t-tables, etc.), create three versions of each of your 10 questions with unique values for each variable.

For science courses, plan for questions that cover every key term, plus 10 initial application questions per chapter. To increase the question pool, include an alternative version of each application question. Note that you do not need to create individual questions for each key term–a matching question might cover multiple items (atomic weights, anatomical elements, etc.).