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Development of Varied

Assessment Tools
Marvien M. Barrios, Ed.D,RGC

Guidelines in Writing True or

False Items

The desired method of marking true or false should be clearly explained before students begin the

Construct statements that are definitely true or definitely false, without additional qualifications. If
opinion is used, attribute it to some source.

Use relatively short statements and eliminate extraneous material.

Keep true and false statements at approximately the same length, and be sure that they are
approximately equal numbers of true and false items.

Avoid the following:

double negatives statements. They take extra time to decipher and are difficult to interpret.

verbal clues, absolutes and complex sentences.

broad general statements that are usually not true or false without further qualifications.

terms denoting indefinite degree (e.g., large, long time, regularly), or absolutes (e.g., never, only, always).

placing items in systematic order (e.gl, TTFF, TFTF, and so on).

taking statements directly from the text and presenting them out of context.

Guidelines in Writing Matching


Keep both the list of descriptions and the list of options fairly short and
homogeneousthey should both fit on the same page.

Make sure that all the options are plausible distracters for each descriptions to
ensure homogeneity of lists.

The list of descriptions should contain the longer phrases or statements, while the
options should consist of short phrases, words, or symbols.

Each description in the list should be numbered (each is an item), and the list of the
options should be identified by letter.

Include more options than descriptions. If the option list is longer than the
description list, it is harder for the students to eliminate options. If the option list is
shorter, some options must be used more than once. Always include some options
that do not match any of the descriptions, or some that match more than one, or

In the directions, specify the basis for matching and whether options can be used
more than once.

Guidelines in Writing Essay Items

Have clearly in mind what mental process you want the students to use before starting to write the

Write the question to clearly and unambiguously define the task to the students.

Start essay questions with such words or phrases as compare, contrast, give reasons for, give
original examples of, predict what would happen if, and so on. Do not begin with such words as
what, who, when, and list, because those words generally lead to tasks that require only recall of

A question with a controversial issue should ask for and be evaluated in terms of the presentation of
evidence for a position rather than the position taken.

Establish reasonable time and/or page limits for each essay question to help the student complete
the question and to indicate the level of detail for the response you have in mind.

Use essay questions with content and objectives that cannot be satisfactorily measured by objective

Avoid using optional items.

Be sure each question relates to an instruction objectives


Content Concerns
Every item should reflect specific content and a single specific cognitive process.

Base each item on something important to learn; avoid trivial content.

Use novel material to test for understanding and other forms of higher level learning.

Keep the content of an item independent of the content of other items.

Avoid overspecific or overgeneral content.

Avoid opinion-based items.

Avoid trick items.

Style and Format Concerns

Format item options vertically instead of horizontally.

Edit items for clarity.

Edit items for correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.

Simplify vocabulary.

Minimize reading time.

Proofread each item.

Make directions as clear as possible.

Writing the Stem

Make the stem as brief as possible.

Place the main idea in the stem, not in the choices.

Avoid irrelevant information (Window dressing).

Avoid negative words in the stem.

Writing the Options

Use as many choices as possible, but three choices seem to be a natural limit.

Vary the position of the right answer according to the number of options. Assign the position of the correct answer randomly.

Place options in logical or numerical order.

Keep choices independent; choices should not be overlapping.

Keep choices homogeneous in content and grammatical structure.

Keep the length of the choices about the same.

None of the above should be used sparingly.

Avoid using All of the above.

Avoid negative words such asNotorExcept. If unavoidable boldface, capitalize, italicize, or underline these words.

Avoid options that give clues to the right answer.

Make all distractors plausible.

Use typical errors of students when you write distractors.

Use humor if it is compatible with the teacher; avoid in formal testing situation.