Test Items I

In developing assessments, there are two types of test items. The two types of test items are objective test items and essay test items. Objective test items are items that only have one correct answer. Examples include true and false, multiple choice, matching, and completion.

Essay items are items that can have many different answers. There are two common types and they are restricted response and extended essay. With either of these items the student response to an open-ended question.

In this post, we are going to take a closer look at true and false items by defining and providing information on how to develop them.

True and False Items

True and false items are easy to make. You write a statement and you ask the student if the statement is true or not. In comparison to other test items, true and false items can be made quickly. However, there are some concerns with their use.

One problem with true and false items is that a student who guesses has a 50% chance of success. This means on average, that a student who knows nothing could get 50% on a true and false test if all they did was guess. Even though they failed, this is a high grade for someone who knows nothing.

One way to deal with this is that when a student identifies that a statement is false, they also need to indicate what aspect of the statement is incorrect. Below is an example.

Directions: For each statement below read the statement and place a check next to true if the statement is true or next to false if the statement is false. If the statement is false, underline the word in the statement that is false and write the correct word in the space provided. 

T   F Thailand is south of Malaysia


In the example above, the answer is false. Therefore, we will put a check next to F. Next, we have to determine what word in the statement is incorrect. In this example, the word “south” is wrong” Thailand is north of Malaysia. Therefore, we underline south and write the word north in the space provided. Are completed example is below.

T   F√ Thailand is south of Malaysia


This approach helps to reduce the risk of random guessing by students. Now they have to know why an answer is false in order to receive full credit. The only problem with this is that if the answer is true and the student guesses correctly, there is no way of knowing. Below are some suggestions for developing true and false items

Tips for True and False Items

  1. Make sure the statement is absolutely true at all times. If there is exception it is not true or false.
  2. In relation to the first tip, avoid words that are indefinite such as long, short, hard, soft and also words that are absolute such as always, never, permanently. These phrases are normally false.
  3. Avoid developing a predictable pattern in the responses such as TTFF or FFTT or TFTFT. Students will find the pattern and follow it.

We hope that these ideas help you in developing true and false statements. If you have other suggestions, please include them in the comments.

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