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What do you think about multiple choice tests/exams?


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I have been wondering what you think about multiple choice exams/tests. I often have the feeling that teachers / universities / schools just do multiple choice tests because this is the easiest way to make a test as it does not demand a lot of time for making the corrections.

I'm not generally against multiple choice tests but in my opinion, they are often not appropriate or "useful" as they just test "passive learning", if you know what I mean. If not, let me explain.

In a multiple choice test you can often get answers right just because you can remember that one thing or another has been mentioned in previous lessons/lectures etc, but you actually could not write this down if you would have to do so (which would be the case in a proper exam where you have to write down answers in form of complete texts and so on); so, you just need to know stuff passively and chances are still pretty good that you can recall the answer from your memory when reading the questions and possible answers in multiple choice tests  :angel:

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Many of my professors in college used to give multiple choice exams. I didn't find it easy and I remember wishing that the exams were of a different type. I'd say that my professors were great item-writers. Creating questions for a multiple choice exam requires skill and patience. Good item writers are rare. In my opinion, a good writer could eliminate the problem you have mentioned where a student could just pick an answer based on its familiarity.

Another problem with multiple choice tests is that while it can be a good measure of a student's knowledge, certain topics are better off given in another type of exam. Some common examples include problem solving and reasoning skills.

One advantage of multiple choice is it can be scored objectively while certain types of tests such as essay obviously has a subjective element. Multiple choice is also preferred when evaluating a large amount of test takers because it takes significantly less time.

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I absolutely despise multiple choice tests, I never do well on them and the teachers usually make it so that it confuses the students; they’re never straightforward. I understand that they must challenge the students in order for them to pass, but when all the answers could potentially be right, I just get depressed.

The only thing good about these types of tests is the fact that the answer is right in front of you and you just have to pick out the correct one. I prefer short answers though, because you can always make up some sort of logic on the spot and get some marks even if you’re unsure of the actual answer.

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I prefer them for larger exams. Usually when you think multiple answers could be correct, that means you haven't studied the source material enough. Reading and absorbing the information thoroughly will normally let you instantly recognize the correct answer.

I don't find it much less knowledge-testing than writing answers, the only knock against it being the ability to guess the correct answer at least 25% of the time.

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Lots of professors at my school prefer multiple choice because they can be done on scantrons. They literally take like 10 minutes to get the scores. And I guess multiple choice benefits students more because there's always a 25% of guessing right.

Personally, I tend to like/dislike it based on what subject I'm being tested on.. I remember back in middle school, we would have multiple choice math tests. Those really saved my life because I sucked at math and with multiple choice, I was able to work my way back up. So I think for math where there's a definite answer, it's better to have multiple choice.

But for, say, language classes, it's better to have short response questions just because there's so many possibilites and different ways to be correct. But I guess if we had a question that says "Circle the wrong one", then multiple choice would be acceptable too.

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I taught at the graduate level and found that mutiple choice actually judge two things 1) whether you understand the subject matter and 2) reading comprehension based on the "call" of the question.  I realize some may say they can just "recognize" after discarding answers, but the second aspect of comprehension can make a "buzz word" a wrong answer.  (Such as which is the "least likely" counter argument...and then they put a buzz word in the wrong context.)  Since so many doctrines and standardized test use multiple choice, I think they are here to stay and the goal should be to understand really what is being asked.

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It can be  challenging at times, specially if you are going to pick the best answer out of the correct answers. My college professors always do that kind of exam. but then the chances of knowing the correct answer is higher compare to the fill in the blanks type.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think multiple choice tests help students learn how to think on their own because there are ways around multiple choice tests. You can use "testing strategies" where you eliminate the answers until you have a few answers left and then you make an educated guess. This way, students don't really learn I think. I think essay tests are preferable because that way you get to present your argument and really get to think well about how you're going to solve a problem. However, you can't have essay questions for all kinds of subjects and some classes may be too large to administer essay exams.

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I LOVE them!!!  They make it easier on me ;)  Sometimes I feel kinda guilty tho, because I know there are other types of tests that actually require you to write much and think even harder.  Multiple choice tests also make you think, the fact they give you several choices to pick from makes it MUCH easier for the student... specially if you have a really lousy memory (I do).  They are life savers... that's all I can tell you!

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The multiple choice tests/exams I think is an easy type of exam. You only had to choose from the given choices the answer you think or remembered that is right. Sometimes most of us if are not sure for themselves they always choose the "none of the above" answer.  During entrance exams for eligibility to high school, college or even when you are applying for work in a company the multiple choice tests/exams are always part of the exams in general and I think the examiners find this an easy way also for them in checking the tests/exams results.

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I think it's a nice method of checking to see if the students have got a brief overview of the chapter. Multiple Choice Questions(MCQs) have been widely implemented in many colleges including mine. We actually prefer these tests because there isn't much to study usually. But this format falls short if you truly want to understand the syllabus. The good ol' conventional exams where you have to answer in 'detail' are better to master the concept.

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I think it's just the most practical way of testing, and I prefer it over other ways. Having the choices in front of you does make it a little easier, yes, but there are also the other optional answers that can confuse you, and I think that balances it out. The only problem with these types of exams is the luck factor, which I think is alright. Luck plays a role in real life as well, anyway, so it's not that much of an inaccurate representation of real situations.

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I am quite used to multiple choice exams having given a bucket load of them over the past few years. Definitely prefer them to normal tests but hate how they lull you into a false sense of security over how easy they are supposed to be. In my opinion the more obvious an option looks, the less its chances of being correct are.

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I'm not really used to multiple choice tests, only one of my teachers uses multiple choices in her tests and I actually prefer it. But it depends on the subject; there are subjects where it's not that practical to use multiple choice questions, like History. I'm currently studying Advanced History and never have I had a multiple choice question, although I'd prefer it because History has a lot to study and sometimes I can't remember everything - but I have to to get a good grade. So I'm kind of in a mixed spot right now.

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I have been wondering what you think about multiple choice exams/tests. I often have the feeling that teachers / universities / schools just do multiple choice tests because this is the easiest way to make a test as it does not demand a lot of time for making the corrections.

I'm not generally against multiple choice tests but in my opinion, they are often not appropriate or "useful" as they just test "passive learning", if you know what I mean. If not, let me explain.

In a multiple choice test you can often get answers right just because you can remember that one thing or another has been mentioned in previous lessons/lectures etc, but you actually could not write this down if you would have to do so (which would be the case in a proper exam where you have to write down answers in form of complete texts and so on); so, you just need to know stuff passively and chances are still pretty good that you can recall the answer from your memory when reading the questions and possible answers in multiple choice tests  :angel:

Indeed, multiple choice exams are not a true test of your genius or your grasp of a certain topic. There are many people who pass these multiple choice exams based on common knowledge or their ability to remember "vaguely" what they learnt in the classroom ( I am such a person); but it doesn't really display if you are able to give a thorough description of the topic at hand  :shy: I love multiple choice exams nonetheless, and I will forever depend on them to supplement my grades.

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Yes, many schools, teachers, state board, and professors give out multiple-choice examinations because it is less time-consuming and easier for correction. However, multiple-choice examinations may be not the most effective way to test students' knowledge. Multiple-choice examinations only test students' memories of what they have learned in class, but it doesn't mean students will know the materials well enough because they just prepare for the examinations. Later, they can not recall some of the materials they've once learned. I think answering questions and filling in the blank are also best ways for students to actually acknowledge the materials, not having to study so hard for the multiple-choice examinations that they end up forgetting the materials later.

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I hate them. They are too tricky if you didnt study enough. They save you the writing time but consume more of your thinking time as you have to be sure before you choose the answer. :grin:

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I love multiple choice. They are the easiest for me, especially since I have a hard time spelling the words sometimes (or I'll spell it correctly but forget the special character), so multiple choice helps me to not do that, plus they help me to continue learning as I'm reading the answers.

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For a foreign language class, I always find it immensely helpful when teachers include multiple choice questions in their exams. The entire test doesn't have to be multiple choice, but it's always nice when teachers will at least make the vocabulary portion of the test multiple choice. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing the grammar rules but forgetting the vocabulary during a written exam!

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I love multiple choice tests. Even when I don't know the answer, I can still do deductive reasoning and get it right a lot of times. It may not seem like the best way to go about it, but I think that I would forget answers if I had to fill in all the blanks.

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I am the kind of person who does not trust ones self whatsoever. If I have an instinct to go left, I will typically go right instead. This is a huge issue with these multiple choice types of tests; I choose A instantly, and then think that I must be wrong. However in such tests I am more often than not, correct. I've actually had teachers say "If you'd trusted your gut, your mark would have been 20% higher.."

So, I hate them. Hahah. (The tests not the teachers.)

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I absolutely despise multiple choice tests, I never do well on them and the teachers usually make it so that it confuses the students; they’re never straightforward. I understand that they must challenge the students in order for them to pass, but when all the answers could potentially be right, I just get depressed.

The only thing good about these types of tests is the fact that the answer is right in front of you and you just have to pick out the correct one. I prefer short answers though, because you can always make up some sort of logic on the spot and get some marks even if you’re unsure of the actual answer.

I'm with you. I don't often do good on multiple choice tests because most of them are tricky questions. I sometimes cannot decide the best answers because I get very frustrate that I have to pick one. I do agree that teachers want to confuse students by having them to take multiple choice tests/exams.

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I don't have a problem with multiple choice exams provided that I have studied the material.  They can be an easier way of taking a class in that through a process of elimination and answer will show itself.  Plus the percentages of getting the answer are higher than with an essay exam, either you are right or wrong with an essay.

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