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Crafting Questions

Selected Response Questions

Examples of selected response assessment items (also referred to as objective assessments) include multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and true/false questions. In crafting effective short response items, construct questions that target higher-order thinking (HOT) skills (consistent with the application, analysis, and synthesis levels of Bloom’s taxonomy).

Crafting Effective MCQs

Effective MCQs require more than just simple memorisation of facts. Bloom’s taxonomy provides a good structure to assist instructors in crafting MCQs. MCQs can therefore be divided into two levels, i.e. lower level cognitive questions which assesses knowledge, comprehension and application and higher level cognitive questions, which assesses application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Classroom assessments should demand both lower-order thinking (LOT) and HOT skills. MCQs can address HOT skills by including items that focus on understanding (“how” and “why” questions). Therefore, MCQs that involve scenarios, case studies and analogies can be crafted such that students are required to apply, analyse, synthesise, and evaluate information. There are many pros and cons of using MCQs and this is addressed in the paper by Simkin and Kuchler (2005).

ere are a few links to examples of MCQs using Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Constructed Response Questions

Constructed response assessments are written assessments which include short response items (e.g. fill-in-the-blank questions) or extended response items (e.g. short or long essays).

When crafting short response questions, keep it focused to ensure that the question is clear and that it has a definitive answer. For example, a short response might ask a student to “illustrate a concept with an example” or “compare and contrast two or more concepts.”

Effective extended response assessment such as essay questions require students to use higher-order cognitive level thinking skills, by requiring them to organize, interpret and integrate information, assess and evaluate ideas and provide convincing arguments and explanations to support their opinions.

Essay questions are extended constructed response assessments where the student is required to respond to a general question or proposition in writing. This type of assessment allows students to demonstrate their reasoning related to a topic, and as such, demand the use of higher level thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Studies in the literature have acknowledged the potential of using essays to assess higher levels of student understanding and suggests several guidelines to make essays more reliable for measuring the depth of understanding. Well-written crafted essay questions should specify how the students should respond and should provide clear information about the value/weight of the question and how it will be scored (please see section on the use of assessment rubrics).

Here is a link to examples of preparing effective essay questions.


  1. Begum, T. T. (2012). A Guideline on Developing Effective Multiple Choice Questions and Construction of Single Best Answer format. Journal Of Bangladesh College Of Physicians Surgeons, 30(3), 159-166.
  2. Reiner, C. M., Bothell, T. W., Sudweeks, R. R., & Wood, B. (2002). Preparing Effective Essay Questions.
  3. Simkin, M. G., & Kuechler, W. L. (2005). Multiple-Choice Tests and Student Understanding: What Is the Connection?. Decision Sciences Journal Of Innovative Education, 3(1), 73-97.
  4. Walstad, W. B. (2006). Testing for Depth of Understanding in Economics Using Essay Questions. Journal Of Economic Education, 37(1), 38-47.

Last updated on 26 May 2017 .