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The Quiz Maker: Designing MCQs-based Quiz to Induce Higher-Level Thinking

MCQs based quizzes are one of the most popular options among examiners looking to assess the knowledge of the learners in a digital setup. This is because most of the online exam software have inherited programming restraints where they only allow the examiner to design a quiz consisting solely of MCQs (some quiz makers also offer the option of incorporating essay based questions). Apart from that, you also can’t deny the convenience a MCQs based quiz offers—both to the examiner and the student.  

·         It can be graded in quick time.

·         It can be answered in short time.

·         It allows the examiners to test the knowledge of students on an expansive subject in a limited time period.

However there remains one strong criticism against MCQs based quizzes:

MCQs based quizzes do not allow the examiner to test the higher level cognition attributes of a candidate, primarily due to the nature of questions that can be asked.

It’s time to sweep away the preconceived notions. This is,

The Quiz Maker: Designing MCQs Based Quiz to Induce Higher Level Thinking

Understanding Higher Level Thinking

According to the famous Bloom’s Taxonomy, the different levels of thinking in a candidate can be represented in a progressive manner as: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.  

MCQs based quizzes are believed to explore only the bottom levels of the thinking pyramid. And to be honest, many examiners are guilty of that because they don’t really know how to design MCQs based quizzes that can tap the higher levels of the thinking pyramid.

Tips to Create MCQs Based Quiz That Induce Higher Level Thinking

Tip #1: Learn the Art of Structuring

Structure your MCQs in a way that urges candidates to transform their thinking to higher levels of the thinking pyramid. Here is an example:  

Original Structuring: Choose a set of technical faults commonly associated with digital timer of an X-Ray machine.

Transformed Structuring: Describe a scenario to the candidates and ask them in which component of the X-Ray machine do they think the problem lies.

Did you notice how you urged the candidate to move from the basic level of knowledge to the upper level of comprehension?

Tip #2: Feel Free to Invite Distracters

This is another useful tip that you can leverage while designing a MCQs based quiz on an online quiz maker. Distracters are tricky elements that encourage a student to analyze the problem, rather than just state the knowledge. Here is an example:

Original Question: The mean of 2,4,4,10 is 5. Select “True” or “False”.

Question With Distracters: What is the mean of 2,4,4,10? Provide different options that serve as distracters. You can provide a median value, a mode value and the actual mean value. This will force the candidates to review their concepts of the statistical term and then analyze which is the right answer.

Did you notice how you urged the candidate to move from the basic knowledge level of the thinking pyramid to the analysis level?

Tip #3: Make Use of Pictorials

Integrate pictorials in your MCQs based quizzes to construct questions that induce higher level thinking in appearing candidates. Here is an example:

Step 1: Present a graph with stated variables.

Step 2: Ask the candidate to calculate the values of the variables.

Step 3: Present a progressive problem, the answer to which lies on the inference of the values deducted from the solution.

Did you notice how you urged your students to come with a solution that required synthesis and evaluation?


MCQs based quizzes are more than just an assessment tool for evaluating the basic levels of thinking in a candidate. If designed carefully, they too can be used for exploring the higher levels of cognitive behavior in a candidate.  

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