Online edition:ISSN 2758-089X

Characteristics of Multiple Choice Questions Intrinsic to Their Format

Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are not suitable for testing an examinee's knowledge. Examiners cannot distinguish whether questions have been answered by random guessing or not. In many types of MCQs, knowledge of only two items (a correct terminal) out of four or five is sufficient to answer correctly. If an examinee can identify a correct terminal, he can answer a question correctly even if all other items are blank. In the multiple completion type problem (K-type) and its modifications, one to five correct terminals exist depending on answer codes. Therefore, even if an examiner presents difficult material in an item, an examinee could receive points by locating another correct terminal. On the other hand, even if an examinee knows all three correct items appearing in the answer code (e.g. type K, answer code "A"), he is still compelled to make a random guess and could select the wrong answer. Therefore the scores achieved by the examinees on such tests can not be said to truly reflect their actual knowledge of a subject. MCQs can, however, be used for self-assessment.

Saito T, et al