Validating multiple choice test items

When “none of the above” is used as an alternative, test-takers who can eliminate a single option can thereby eliminate a second option.

This book will be of interest to anyone who develops test items for large-scale assessments, as well as teachers and graduate students who desire the most comprehensive and authoritative information on the design and validation of multiple-choice test items.

There is little difference in difficulty, discrimination, and test score reliability among items containing two, three, and four distractors. , in which some or all of the alternatives consist of different combinations of options.

As with “all of the above” answers, a sophisticated test-taker can use partial knowledge to achieve a correct answer. Savvy test-takers can use information in one question to answer another question, reducing the validity of the test.

If a significant learning outcome requires negative phrasing, such as identification of dangerous laboratory or clinical practices, the negative element should be emphasized with italics or capitalization. A question stem is preferable because it allows the student to focus on answering the question rather than holding the partial sentence in working memory and sequentially completing it with each alternative (Statman 1988).

The cognitive load is increased when the stem is constructed with an initial or interior blank, so this construction should be avoided.

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