Maximizing the Effectiveness of Multiple-Choice Qs

The following post first appeared on The Effortful Educator on May 15, 2018.

Below is a quick activity that is easily adaptable for most class settings. It maximizes the effectiveness of multiple-choice questions and is a wonderful way for students and teachers to assess student learning. I really like this activity, because unlike most involving multiple-choice questions, this template makes use of all answer choices and requires students effortfully work with all of the material.

Another reason I really like this is its ability to cover a lot of material in a few questions.  If you have 10 questions with 5 answer choices, the students could feasibly interact with 50 different snippets of material.  As you can see below, the student has to interact with the question stems in various ways:

  • With the correct answer the student must either provide a memory aid they used to help them choose this answer OR provide a sketch that illustrates the term or concept covered.
  • With the incorrect answers, students must:
    • Use the ‘trickiest’ incorrect answer to describe why this answer is most likely to trip up students and potentially lead students to choosing this answer.
    • Rewrite the question to make this incorrect answer the correct answer.
    • Give an example relating this answer to the student’s life.
    • Link this answer to information from a previous lesson/unit or to information learned from another class.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 10.04.07 AM

How can you use this in your class?

How could you modify the template for use as a study guide, for homework, or as a quiz grade in class?

What other ideas do you have to help students interact with the answers?


Blake Harvard is the AP Psychology teacher at James Clemens High School. He graduated from the University of Montevallo with a Master’s degree in Secondary Education (6-12) in 2005. In addition to coaching football and soccer for James Clemens, he is currently working as a product advisor for Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and ISTE as well as writing his first book with Routledge Publishing. You can find him on twitter at @effortfuleduktr or check out his blog at www.effortfuleducator.com

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