While multiple choice questions and other traditional question types are often very useful, they can feel artificial. When you’re taking them, you can always tell that you’re “taking a test,” and that process always feels different from anything you’d have to do outside of the testing environment. Complex question types address this problem by simulating the kind of task you would have to perform in a realistic scenario. In this way, they make assessment more proximate to the discipline while allowing learners to get instant feedback. For example, complex question types could ask you to:
Fill-in-the-blank questions are fundamentally different from multiple choice questions in that the examinee provides his or her own answer. This advantages and disadvantages of this question type spring from this essential feature, because coming up with something by yourself is fundamentally different from choosing one of the options that the test creator provides.
True/false questions are really multiple choice questions with two answers: true and false. They tend to get used in low-stakes assessments, to generate class discussion, or because sometimes learning designers want to include questions that are easier to answer. However, they tend not to be used in high-stakes assessment, for these reasons:
Matching, sorting, and sequencing are worth considering together, because they share the same advantages and disadvantages. Essentially, they are all good item types when used appropriately, but they aren’t appropriate in every context.
By some measures, multiple choice questions are the most popular question type in assessment.They show up everywhere, across disciplines, across ages, in traditional education, in the business world, in certification exams and seemingly everywhere you look. Multiple choice questions aren’t popular with everyone, though. Students typically have a less positive view of them, and they’re subject to criticism from educators, instructional designers and other avenues.