Characteristics of Good Test Questions

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 30 November 2016

Characteristics of Good Test Questions

Here is the list of characteristics that you should follow when either writing or selecting interpretive exercise questions for use in Stage 2 of any curriculum planning. Examples of these characteristics and why they are important will be discussed in class.

Interpretive exercise questions consist of a series of selective response items based on a common set of introductory material. The introductory material may be in the form of written materials, tables, charts, graphs, maps or pictures.

These questions are the hardest to write, because you have to find novel introductory material related to your unit of instruction that works and is important. The reason for including this type of question in a unit test is that it gives students practice answering this type of question which is often used on standardized tests in science.


1. Measure the ability to interpret the introductory material encountered in everyday situations. 2. Measure more complex learning outcomes than is possible with other forms of selected response items. 3. Minimizes the influence of a students’ lack of needed factual information on measurement of complex learning outcomes. 4. Greater structure than essay test. 5. A question type used in standardized tests. Students need to be familiar with this question type.


1. Hard to construct: find materials that are new (novel) but relevant. Usually needs some editing. 2. Heavier demand on students’ reading skill. Keep reading level low, passage brief. In primary grades use more pictorial materials. 3. Cannot measure students’ overall approach to problem solving (doesn’t show work steps). 4. Only test problem-solving ability at the recognition level.

Interpretive Exercise Guidelines:

1. Select introductory material that is in harmony with course outcomes. 2. Select introductory material that is appropriate to the curricular experience and reading level of the student. 3. Select introductory material that is new (novel) to the student. 4. Use introductory material that is brief, but meaningful.

5. Revise introductory material for clarity and conciseness for greater value. 6. Construct test items that require analysis and interpretation of the introductory material. 7. Make the number of test items roughly proportional to the length of the introductory material. 8. When constructing the test items use the guidelines given in the writing of selective response items.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 30 November 2016

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