Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Multiple Choice Questions can be described as “the traditional ‘choose from a list’ of possible answers”. Students select the correct or best answer from the list given. This format is most frequently used in testing. Multiple Choice Questions are objective, which means there must be a right answer or a best answer (although there is scope for crediting more than one right answer or ‘near miss’ answers, depending on the marking scheme.
Can a student guess his/her way to success in MCQs?
Multiple Choice Questions with four options presents a one in four chance of ‘guessing’ the correct answer. This is no worse than a student who adopts the ‘write all you know’ approach to Multiple Choice Questions for which he/she can generally expect to pick up marks for correct points the marker has laboriously identified within a largely irrelevant answer.
Components of MCQs:
- Item = the entire multiple choice question
- Stem = the first, sentence-like portion of the multiple choice question that ‘ask
- Alternates or options = all of the possible multiple-choice responses
- Keyed response = correct answer
- Distracter or foil = the wrong answers. They are called distractors or foils because they should be written to closely resemble the keyed response, therefore distracting or foiling students who are good as guessing.
Multiple Choice Questions can test much more than knowledge, but they cannot test oral or written skills.They offer ample scope to test much of the knowledge and skills required by a student throughout the academics.
MCQs allow examiners to distinguish between surface learners and those who have shown understanding through a higher level of application and analysis, and hence avoid rewarding surface learning, eliminating a sufficient number of those ‘lucky monkeys’.
There are many strategies for maximizing your success on MCQs. The best way to improve your chances, of course, is to study carefully the questions and the choices. There is no good substitute for knowing the right answer. Even a well-prepared student can make silly mistakes on Multiple Choice Questions, however, or can fall prey to distracters’ that look very similar to the correct answer.
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