examples of recall test items. Always test recall with closed book tests, otherwise you are not
testing the students ability to remember information.
Comprehension is understanding what was taught rather than simply
memorizing the words.
It can be demonstrated by interpreting, explaining, translating, or
summarizing information. When measuring the students understanding of an objective, you
must avoid the use of verbatim recall or recognition types of items. Comprehension requires
you to paraphrase the material presented in the item rather than taking it word for word from
the text. Asking a student to explain how a device works is an example of a comprehension
Application involves the ability to use acquired knowledge in a job-related
situation. Application questions require students to demonstrate knowledge through mental skill
exercises such as solving a computational problem or determining resistance values from circuit
diagrams. You must use different problems or circuits from the ones you used in class to
develop application questions.
Analysis involves the understanding of the elements of data and
relationships among the data that make the meaning of information explicit. Evaluation
involves the judgment of the value or the effectiveness of procedures or solutions based on data,
criteria, and standards. For example, consider a question that asks the student to select the best
approach to meet a stated objective.
The question would require the student to know or
determine which options would meet the objective (analysis) and which single option would be
In developing knowledge test items, focus on the learning level being tested and write the test
items to that level. You may use five types of knowledge test items: multiple-choice, true-false,
matching, completion, and essay.
MULTIPLE-CHOICE TEST ITEM DEVELOPMENT
The multiple-choice item is the most versatile of the five types of test items. Use it to test all
levels of knowledge except recall. The multiple-choice test item consists of (1) a stem containing
the problem statement and (2) a list of possible answers (alternatives).
Typically, this type of test item contains four alternatives; however, depending on the nature
of the content being tested, you can use more or less than four. Make one of the alternatives
the correct answer to the test item and all of the others plausible alternatives.
The following sections present guidelines for stem construction, alternative construction, test
item forms and formats, and common errors in item construction.
A cardinal rule in test item development is to communicate effectively. Use the following
guidelines as a checklist to make sure you properly write multiple-choice test item stems:
n Include all information, conditions, assumptions, and details required for the students to
correctly answer the question without requiring them to refer to the alternatives.