Multiple choice item
A multiple choice item (MCI), often known as a multiple choice question (MCQ) is a selected response item with more than 2 choices of response. These are typically used as part of a multiple choice test.
Contrast constructed-response item, in which the test takers have to construct their own answers.
The prototypical multiple choice item[edit | edit source]
The question is a choice question with multiple possible answers (typically about 4). One possible answer, known as the key response, should be correct, and the other answers, the distractors, should be incorrect.
- Multiple choice gapfill
- Odd-one-out item
- Definition-matching multiple choice
- Word-matching multiple choice
- Picture-based multiple choice
What can go wrong[edit | edit source]
An erroneous test item is possible, in particular:
- The key response does not correctly answer the question, so the test taker may see 4 incorrect answers.
- In addition to the key response, one of the distractors is also correct, so the taker may be able to identify 2 correct answers.
Answering MCIs[edit | edit source]
Answering MCIs is a skill in itself; if a test taker doesn’t know the answer, they may be able to eliminate one or two responses and choose the best one from the remaining options. Test wiseness can assist takers.
Marking[edit | edit source]
Marking for MCIs typically assigns one mark to a correct answer, no marks for incorrect answer, and no marks for not answering the question. To negate guessing, a guessing penalty may be imposed on incorrect answers. If the second system is used, test takers need to be careful only to answer questions that they are confident they know the answer to.
Marking is often performed with optical mark recognition on specially-designed paper.