Messing with multiple choice - Macleans.ca

# Messing with multiple choice

## What if it’s not A, B, or C?

My Human Physiology exam broke one of the cardinal rules of multiple-choice tests.

The whole point of a multiple choice test is that the answer is somewhere in front of you. If you’ve done the readings and listened to the lectures, it’s just a matter of recognizing the right answer.

At the very least, you can narrow it down through process of elimination.

Unless some passive-aggressive TA decides to make all 120 questions include “none of the above.”

## Messing with multiple choice

1. Er, no. The point of a multiple-choice exam is that it’s easy to mark. Exams with options like “all of the above”, “none of the above”, “both A and C”, and similar, take more careful thinking and better mastery of the material, and those of us who actually understand the material appreciate it.

2. The worst kind of multiple-choice I’ve ever seen includes “2 of the above”. A professor I had last year was particularly fond of using that.

3. umm welcome to university.

4. For the first year math exams at my university, we were given 10 answers, and had to pick the answer closest to our number. So you’d see answers of A. 0, B. 1, C. 2, D. 3, E. 4 …. etc. If the answer was 1.7, you’d pick C. If the answer was -14, you’d pick A. Having three or four answers with one of them as none of the above is pretty generous in my books. Especially if the exam doesn’t penalize for random guessing (eg. on a 5 answer problem, a wrong answer should lower your score by 0.25, so random guessing will give an average score of 0, rather than, say 20%).

5. Kiddo, you’re gonna need to shape up if you want to be some kind of brilliant intellectual of the next generation. Your sissy multiple-choice test wasn’t quite sissy enough? Oh shucks. If you *ever* get any questions that *aren’t* at least that tricky, you should be mad at your school for not challenging you enough. The whole point of multiple-choice exams is not to show you the answer, but, like every other test, to provide you the opportunity to prove that you know the answer.