Multiple-choice questions are one of the most popular types of assessment questions. It takes skill to craft a good multiple-choice question.

A multiple choice question consists of a stem, correct answer, and distractors. The stem can include either a complete, direct question, such as, "What is CourseArc?," or a statement completion item such as, "CourseArc is . . . ." Statement completion items require the insertion of the correct answer to complete the statement. It is highly recommended that instructional designers make stems short to avoid misinterpretation. Learners should be able to formulate their response immediately after reading the question. Learners should not have to re-read a question to understand its meaning.

parts of a multiple choice question the stem, distractors, and correct answer

Creative Commons LicenseMultiple Choice Questions by CourseArc is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Here are some suggestions to ensure the quality of questions.
  1. Avoid "None of the above," "Some of the above," and "Both a and b" options.
  2. Avoid "All of the following are correct, except . . . .”
  3. Avoid negative stems. If negative stems must be used, consider underlining, bolding, italicizing, or capitalizing any negative stems.
  4. Make all options and distractors similar in length.
  5. Avoid grammatical giveaways. For example, if the stem ends with the article "a" and only one or two options begin with a consonant, then the distractors can be eliminated easily.

To learn more about writing great multiple choice questions, read Writing Good Multiple Choice Questions by Cynthia Brame from Vanderbilt University and Constructing Good Items by Jon Mueller.