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Studies1 by Sax & Collet (1968) and Paterson (1926) conducted forty-two years apart reached the same conclusion: "...there seems to be no escape from the conclusions that the two types of exams are measuring identical things." (Paterson, p.246) This conclusion should not be surprising; after all, a well written essay item requires that the student (1) have a store of knowledge, (2) be able to relate facts and principles, and (3) be able to organize such information into a coherent and logical written expression, whereas an objective test item requires that the student (1) have a store of knowledge, (2) be able to relate facts and principles, and (3) be able to organize such information into a coherent and logical choice among several alternatives. Essay tests are especially appropriate when: In addition to the preceding suggestions, it is important to realize that certain item types are better suited than others for measuring particular learning objectives.Specific determiners refer to sweeping terms like "all," "always," "none," "never," "impossible," "inevitable," etc.
Students are asked to select the one alternative that best completes the statement or answers the question.
For example, Use the alternatives "none of the above" and "all of the above" sparingly.
Both item types can measure similar content or learning objectives.
Research has shown that students respond almost identically to essay and objective test items covering the same content.
When used, such alternatives should occasionally be used as the correct response.
Table of Contents A true-false item can be written in one of three forms: simple, complex, or compound.There are two general categories of test items: (1) objective items which require students to select the correct response from several alternatives or to supply a word or short phrase to answer a question or complete a statement; and (2) subjective or essay items which permit the student to organize and present an original answer.Objective items include multiple-choice, true-false, matching and completion, while subjective items include short-answer essay, extended-response essay, problem solving and performance test items.For some instructional purposes one or the other item types may prove more efficient and appropriate.To begin out discussion of the relative merits of each type of test item, test your knowledge of these two item types by answering the following questions.Also presented is a set of general suggestions for the construction of each item variation.The multiple-choice item consists of two parts: (a) the stem, which identifies the question or problem and (b) the response alternatives.Answers can consist of only two choices (simple), more than two choices (complex), or two choices plus a conditional completion response (compound).An example of each type of true-false item follows: Avoid the use of specific determiners which would permit a test-wise but unprepared examinee to respond correctly.To help you make such a choice, the different kinds of objective and essay items are presented in the following section of this booklet.The various kinds of items are briefly described and compared to one another in terms of their advantages and limitations for use.