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The Use of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) in Online Exams

The online exam software packages available today allow you to frame different types of tests. Amongst all other options, multiple-choice questions (MCQs) remain to be the most popular type of questions you can insert in online exams because they give you a quick overview of the learners’ progress – not to mention easy they are to grade.


Indeed, the first step in creating effective tests is the selection of an appropriate examination software program. But in order to make your questions effective and achieve the desired outcomes, you have to follow the best practices for designing MCQs. Let’s have a look at these!

1.     The Appropriate Approach

Before you decide to create a multiple choice question-based exam, ensure it is the right way to test learners on a particular topic. Some topics or subjects require qualitative assessments. In that case, you will have to use more subjective questions. Decide carefully!

2.     Realistic Questions

The MCQs you add to an exam via an online test maker should be realistic and logical. If not this, the learners will be able to get the answers without knowing much about the subject being discussed. This defeats the whole purpose of using an online test maker and taking online tests. It is also a smart choice to limit distracters and to not have more than 3-4 choices of answers for each question.

3.     Clear Instructions

Including an exam guideline is important for every test/exam. Ensure your test creator allows you to add guidelines at the very start of the test page and before each set (type) of questions for students to be clear of what is expected of them.

4.     Complex Vocabulary

The online tests you create using online testing software should be readable and straight-forward. Ensure using simple words/vocabulary so that readers don’t have to worry about looking up the meaning to find answers. This is especially important in the case of online learners because they can easily get distracted. Furthermore, complex words can also make it challenging for people with special needs to attempt an exam; for example, those who have English as their second language and not their first language.


5.     Randomization

To ensure cheating-free exams, ensure you randomize the order of choices given under each MCQ. You can also use unique patterns for the answer choices, which are not easy to identify. For example, you can decide on having choice “A” as the answer after every two questions or put the correct answer at choice “C” for all odd number questions, etc.


6.     Answer Clues

Once you have made the quiz, skim through the whole exam to ensure there are no answer clues. Every so often, one MCQ or another subjective question/passage in the same exam could include an answer to another MCQ because of the topic being similar. You obviously don’t want to get exam results that are biased. For this reason, you need to ascertain there are no cheating options available.

7.     Redundancies

This again calls for a thorough proofreading of the test you have created using an online testing software package. However, this time you will have to ensure there no repetitive questions or responses. This will make your exam more to-the-point and valuable.


Often the test creator you use will itself identify repetition and some other errors defined above. This is just another benefit of using online test makers, which you can benefit greatly from.



Happy testing!

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