Phrase the stem positively.
If you must use a negative, highlight it (in caps or underlined) so that the student will
notice it and interpret the item correctly.
Use clear, unambiguous wording so that only one answer is correct.
Include words, phrases, and so on, that pertain to all alternatives rather than repeating
them in the alternative.
Omit information not essential to the interpretation of a test item.
If the test item uses an illustration on a separate illustration form, refer to the illustration
in the stem by figure number.
Use complete sentences for test items in the form of questions and end them with a
Position the completion of an incomplete statement test item near or at the end of the
Avoid the use of more than one completion position.
Use the question form over the incomplete statement form except when it would make the
test item grammatically clumsy or difficult to understand.
Test only one idea or central thought.
You must exercise care when designing the alternatives for multiple-choice test items. Make
sure the alternatives are plausible and fit well with the stem. The difficulty of the item will
depend largely upon the alternatives. The more closely related the alternatives are, the more
difficult it is for students to select the correct answer. A good rule is to develop alternatives
based upon common misconceptions by students and inexperienced job incumbents. You may
prepare alternatives based on how students might incorrectly manipulate terms, symbols, and
the like. An additional rule is to look at the correct answer and determine how you may make
it incorrect. Observe the following requirements in developing multiple-choice alternatives:
n Include only one correct answer.
n Use closely related alternatives.
n Use alternatives that are meaningful and not subject to automatic elimination because they
are irrelevant or unrelated to the question.
n Do not use interrelated answers (e.g., c is true if a and b are false).
~ Use terms with which students are familiar or that you can explain within the limits of the
~ Make all alternatives approximately the same length and of the same complexity.
n Do not use the words always or never.
n Do not use alternatives of all of the above and none of the above.