Structure of a Multiple Choice Test

Purpose and Structure of a Multiple Choice Test. Part 1

Multiple choice (MC) tests have become a common means to assess knowledge for diverse purposes. They’re good to see if a student has learnt a certain information. They’re just as good to repeat what has been studied. In part, multiple choice tests may also assess if an information is understood and processed correctly by the student.

Therefore, this post is for you if you want to make one, know your purpose and the structure of a multiple choice test for your homeschooled student. Overview:

Purpose: What is Your MC Test for?

Let’s assume you need to create a customized multiple choice test because you cannot rely on a given sample. In this case you can have a test for your homeschool for free, creating it yourself. Ask yourself: What’s the purpose of this test? Is it…

  • … a text comprehension tool based on a book read;
  • … to know if your student has understood a math problem;
  • … a test to assess what your student already knows in any area;
  • … part of assessing your student’s learning outcome at the end of a school year;
  • … to deepen knowledge and use the test as means of practise & repitition;
  • … [put your own reasoning]?

In other words, the purpose of any multiple choice test can be reduced to assess learning outcomes. The link leads you to Vanderbilt’s Teaching Center, where they explain the three quality levels to meet when you structure the multiple choice test: covering a wide range of content, reliability with the right questions, and to secure a valid result.

If you want to create a multiple choice test to begin homeschooling on the right food in a given school year, an introductory test to assess what your student already knows is a good tool. Use it on the first day of a school year. I’ve used such a test for entire classes, most of them in higher secondary education. The longer an education lasts, the diverser the educational background and knowledge base is, with which students enter the new grade. In a group setting, such introductory multiple choice test is quickly scored afterwards, too. It gives you an idea of what you’d need to focus on during the beginning of the new season.

It’s even the more important if you have to teach kids of multiple ages at the same time and want to overlap teaching similar topics. To get more help on this feel free to become a subscriber and access the final post of the related series on Syllabus creation. Then, you’ll be better off what to stress during the school year and what to even skip or just talk about along the way.

How to Begin Homeschooling With Testing in Mind

So, if you plan to test your student at the end of a school year, you’ll need to prepare him to pass the test well. That means, you need to actually know what to teach during the entire school year. Then, you may assess learning outcome at the end. Otherwise, it’s all about guessing and hoping your student to learn just what you intented to finish the year successfully. However, it’s not so much about knowing what to expect when your student will face the more complex final or in-between assessments of a given school year.

Therefore, I suggest you keep that in mind when you structure a multiple choice test. And as for quantity and timing, it’s good to use one after each unit or series of lectures. You might plan in those little tests like this:

  • A total of 8-10 tests for one year;
  • In 36 scholarly weeks you’ll test like through week 32, which means you can create one multiple choice test per month;
  • You prepare a sample as of style, safe it and then, you just work with a copy of it;
  • As beginner, you limit yourself to the same amount of questions, 10-15 for example, with the same amount of points each;
  • You create a scoring table that fits all tests because you’ll always use the same amount of points to re-use your overall score – that’s to safe you time;
  • Depending on your country’s predescription of quality, you’ll need to adjust how to rate the points reachable per poll – this means you go by percentages; and
  • Finally, you need to draw conclusions of the result – either what to repeat inbetween units – or to decide how much extra time you need to invest after a semester or at the end of a unit to repeat content learnt earlier.

Now, we’ll discuss those topics in more detail.

Structure of a Multiple Choice Test

Different from any complex assessment, the structure of a multiple choice test is quite simple. Go along these tips:

  • Start with super simple questions, and finish difficult – this is especially true with content and to a lesser extend with the set-up of your poll’s questions;
  • Don’t use true/false answers or so-called closed questions;
  • Adjust the style, content, and overall scoring outline as much as you can to any official test your student might face in a near future. Example: If you homeschooled a high school student in the U.S. you might create a multiple choice test with university-entry relevant SAT and ACT testings in mind;
  • Decide if you want to allow for only one correct answer or various correct answers per questions – each way has advantages and disadvantages;
  • In the case of various correct answers, you might want to give half instead of full points, too (to not add up too much to the score of a simple test);
  • In other words: a multiple choice test of 10 questions should not sum up to 50 points of the overall score;
  • You can also think of an alternative style of a poll, which is to subtract points for wrong answers all the way through instead of just scoring correct answers. This option is possible for multiple choice tests and not common for other types of assessments. It has to do with the inherent MC test style. Example: If your student has solved correctly questions 1-8 but incorrectly questions 9 and 10, he or she would only score 6 points out of 10 within that framework;
  • I’d suggest that you start with the less complicated version: just add up points for correct answers. Later, when more experienced you’ll feel confident to also substract points for wrong answers – if you need that, at all;
  • As for scoring percentages and grading you need to take into account the grade and level of your student. What do I mean by this: a homeschool is much more flexible than formal learning settings. You don’t rely so much on interindividual comparison of learning outcomes between multiple same-aged students – therefore, you can create a highly customized test to challenge individual strengths of your learner at home.

Tips. Part II for subscribers on How to Create an MC test. Check introductory post of related series on Syllabus Creation. Get in touch if you need help with creating your test.

A word of wisdom for you: The beginning of your homeschooling journey has to envision the end.

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