Preparing Thoughtful Auto-Graded Test Banks

Enable enhanced comprehension by encouraging students to choose between multiple well-written answer options.

If the correct answer to a quiz question is obvious to see within a list of choices, the question has less value for students. With that in mind, sometimes the wrong answers merit equal attention to the question selection and the correct answers. Instructors sometimes find coming up with a false answer bank to be one of the most difficult parts of writing a multiple-choice exam. This can lead to answer banks that are poorly written and an overall less effective quiz or exam. 

Plausibility: Do the false answers reflect the tone of the correct response? Although it may take additional effort to create an answer pool that matches the tone, complexity, and rationality of the correct answer, this step can ensure that a student’s quiz success reflects actual familiarity with the subject matter and is not a best guess or estimation of what the correct answer is.

Pointing: Are words within the question stem used in the correct answer but not within the false options? This indicates the likelihood of a stronger relationship between the correct answer and the question.

The following question is an example of a quiz question that misses the mark on plausibility and pointing.

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Perhaps the instructor rushed through the writing process or placed little value on the false answer bank. Whatever the reason, this question does not enhance the student’s learning process. The correct answer is easily recognizable for two obvious reasons:

  1. The correct answer has greater complexity and detail compared to the false answers.
  2. The correct answer’s subject matter and word usage matches those within the question.