Create Your Own Online Course – 9

Using Multi-choice Questions

Some say they only test factual knowledge.

However, they can be used to test analytical thinking, problem solving and several other cognitive processes.

But aren’t essays and open-ended questions better to test these than multichoice?

Not at all, although there is a facility for text answers in the Modlettes question section

The Modlettes platform has a questions facility with three design functions.

  1. Learning quiz
  2. Testing quiz
  3. Free text quiz

All of these functions have the ability to add a picture which opens up a wide variety of opportunities.  The following are three approaches that I use for getting the most out of multichoice questions.

  1. Real-world Scenarios

One of the best ways to assess how a learner will apply new knowledge on the job is to use scenario-based questions.  Particularly ones that simulate real work experiences.  Here are some sample questions that demonstrate how to transform a question from a simple recall to a real-world situation.  I am only showing the question stem and not the multichoice answers that might follow.

  • Before:  What symbol does a formula always start with in Excel?
  • After:  To total the first ten data cells in column B, which one of the following formulas should you use?


  • Before:  What is the process for dealing with product returns?
  • After:  A Customer wants to return a product he says is faulty.  It is immediately obvious to you that it has been misused.  What action will you take?

2. Analysis of Visuals

You can assess critical thinking skills by asking learners to analyse or interpret information from visuals.  In many cases visuals can be sourced from the learner’s workplace.

  • Before:  What is the function of the attenuator on a bottling machine?
  • After:  Using the repair flowchart shown here, what should you check if bottle caps are not secure?


  • Before:  What is the best definition of a telephone rate card?
  • After:  Using the rate card shown, what is the best time for a Customer in Auckland to make an international call to Venezuela?

3. The Answer Plus the Reason Why

The third approach to measuring critical or creative thinking is to ask learners to put what they’ve learned into their own words.  However, these test items are more difficult to write, they can be great for assessments.  Important that only one reason is logical and correct, based on the knowledge and skills being assessed.

  • Before:  What are the three signs of edema?
  • After:  A patient entered the hospital with edema of both lower extremities.  What action should the nurse take and why?


  • Before:  Name three qualities of effective entrepreneurs
  • After:  Review the financials of these three start-up companies.  Which one would you invest in?

So now you can make your multi-choice quizzes much more interesting and challenging.  Also, you get a much better idea of what real learning has taken place.

Other articles in Resources (Modlettes Resources )section on multi-choice questions:

  1.   Overcoming the Correct v Incorrect Response – Modlettes
  2.   Multi-choice Questions to Assess Judgement – Modlettes
  3. Writing Good Multi-choice Questions – Modlettes

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