Asking Good Test Questions

Questions not only measure what students know but can reveal different levels of knowledge and learning.

Considerations for Developing Good Test Questions

Good test questions:

  • assess what you intend for them to assess
  • allow students to demonstrate what they have learned
  • elicit answers that reveal students’ intellectual progress
  • motivate students and help them structure their academic efforts
  • can discriminate between students who have learned what you had intended them to learn and those who have not

Getting Started with Developing Good Test Questions

  • Determine what you want students to know. Revisit the learning outcomes you may have articulated at the beginning of the course.
  • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to review verbs that could inform test questions, such as apply, compare, describe, etc.
  • Examine the different types of questions: fill-in the blank, short answer, multiple choice, matching, essay question, etc. Use multiple question types, as different students may be better or worse at answering various types of questions.
  • Come up with a few possible questions after each lecture. This may increase the quality of test questions because they are more likely to be more representative of your instruction.
  • Consider having students create and submit test questions after a class. Review them for possible use.
  • Have a colleague or teaching assistant review and provide feedback on test questions.