Writing exam questions
- Begin writing questions well ahead of the time when they
will be used; allow time for revision.
- Match questions to intended outcomes at the proper difficulty
level to provide a valid measure of the instructional objectives.
- Be sure each question deals with an important aspect of
the content area and not with trivia.
- Be sure that the problem posed is clear and unambiguous.
- Be sure that each question is independent of all other
questions (i.e., a hint to an answer should not be unintentionally
embedded in another question).
- Be sure the question has one correct or best answer on
which experts would agree.
- Prevent unintended clues to the answer in the statement or question (e.g., grammatical inconsistencies such as ‘a’ or ‘an’ give
- Avoid duplication of the textbook in writing exam questions; don’t
lift quotes directly from any textual materials.
- Avoid trick questions in an achievement exam. (Don’t
waste time testing how well the student can interpret your intentions).
- On a exam with different question formats (e.g., multiple-choice
and true-false), one should group all questions of similar format
- Questions should follow an easy to difficult progression.
- Space the questions to eliminate overcrowding.
- Have diagrams and tables above the question using
the information, not below.
Test your knowledge
on writing fixed-choice questions