- Not to be confused with distraction
A distractor (/dɪsˈtræktə/) is an incorrect item response to a multiple choice item. Distractors have to be superficially plausible to avoid making the question obvious, but they cannot be correct. There is considerable theory based around this.
It is not uncommon for a distractor to be somewhat correct, but not as correct as the intended answer. In this case, it may be a case of choosing the most appropriate answer rather than the correct answer.
As part of test wiseness, one way that test takers can efficiently answer a question is to eliminate obvious distractors from their response, and then try to choose the most appropriate answer from those remaining.
When writing distractors, test writers should be careful to try to minimise the effects of test wiseness.
Contrast key response.