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Objective test items

1 Briefly discuss the mistakes made by

evaluators when phrasing true-false items.

• Evaluators usually make a mistake of writing opinion

statement and not factual statements. Opinions are neither
obviously true nor obviously false. When an opinion statement
is written, it should include a referent that will make it to be

• Absolute words like never, always, only, altogether and all

should not be used, they should rather be substituted with
less absolute.

• Indefinite words like large, regularly, many, etc. should be


• The use of double negatives should be avoided as it

confuses the learner more.

• When a negative is used, it should always be highlighted by

means of italics, underlining or uppercase so that the
learner cannot overlook it – the negative.

• Double barreled test items are a no – no as it may confuses

the learner as to which of the two statements should be
marked ‘True’ and which should be marked ‘False’.

2 Briefly discuss the mistakes made by

evaluators when phrasing matching items.

• Evaluators usually do not give sufficient directions. The

directions should indicate how the matches should be made,
example – like matching letters from one column to the
appropriate number in another column.

• Evaluators usually provide equal descriptions in ‘column A’

and equal options in ‘Column’ B, this encourages the
learner to guess the correct answer by elimination as the
learner can match all the descriptions to the options that he or
she is quite sure of, and ultimately be left with one description
and the one option, which of course will be the correct answer.

• The other mistakes is to put the descriptions on the right

hand column and the options in the left hand column,
this is a tedious task for the learner as a person reads from
left to right and not vice versa.

• The evaluators often overlook the element of homogeneity

in test items. They write heterogeneous test items.

• The evaluators often do not write the options in

alphabetical, numerical or chronological order.

• The evaluators often make the mistakes of not numbering

the descriptions and not identifying the option with a

3 Briefly discuss the mistakes made by

evaluators when phrasing multiple- choice

• The mistake committed in this type of test items is that the

evaluator can make use of a grammatical clue to a
question, which will make it possible for the learner to
correctly answer the question with the language knowledge he
or she possesses and not the content.

• The evaluator should not use a test item which has a multiple
defensible answers.

• They usually commit a mistake of repeating the words

used in the stem in the options.

• They also commit errors of providing options that are usually

not in chronological, numerical or alphabetical order.

• They usually resort to the use of options such as ‘All of the

above, none of the above’.

• The evaluators usually make use of stem clues which are

repeated in both the stem and the options or response
alternatives. This gives the correct option away as it clues
the student as to which option is the correct one.

• The mistake that can also be committed is not presenting a

problem or not focusing the test item.

• The other mistake is the one where evaluators write

opinionated stem, without providing the referent as a base
of reference.
• Evaluators sometimes incorporate the use of negatives
without highlighting the negatives by means of
underlining, italics or uppercase.

4 Briefly discuss the mistakes made by

evaluators when phrasing completion items.

• Evaluators sometimes do not use specifics.

• The blank is sometimes put at the beginning of the

sentence which confuses the person who is taking the test.

• The other mistake is providing more than one blank.

5 Briefly discuss approaches that can be followed when

phrasing higher level multiple-choice items.

5.1 Higher order questions in multiple – choice test items

may be formulated by:

• Incorporating the use of stimuli like pictures, graphs and


• Using analogies that demonstrate the relationships among


• Using the application of previously learned principle or

procedure to novel situations.