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Types of Exam Questions

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Types of Exam Questions

Since the examination is the most common tool, which is used to assess the students’ knowledge, various and sundry examination questions have been created through the history of education. This article not only gives a brief description of six widespread types of examination questions, but also suggests handy tips on implementing each of them. Exam questions include the following types:

  • Multiple choice;
  • True/ false;
  • Matching;
  • Short answer;
  • Essay.

It goes without saying that each and every examination question demands logical application.

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Multiple Choice Exam Questions

This type of questions is formed with the help of a “stem” – a question itself and “choices” – various possible answers, including the correct answer and multiple incorrect answers. The latter ones are known as distractors. In most instances, students opt for the correct answer by circling an associated letter or number. In case of taking an exam on the computer, the correct answer is chosen by filling in the associated circle.


Your question…:

  1. Elements, which resemble the students’ layout, to distract attention
  2. An incorrect still plausible answer
  3. An odd one out

Answer: B

Multiple choice questions are perfect for evaluating students’ general grasp of the subject. Nonetheless, it is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, students do not require much time to read the task and choose the correct answer. On the other, the preparation part is quite time-consuming as far as it takes a long time to compile plausible distractors.

True/ False Exam Questions

Consisting merely from a statement, true/ false questions do not require much time and effort. What is needed is simply to mark whether the statement is true or false. No half-truths exist. This type of questions has a lot in common with multiple choice questions. For instance, it is used to barely check the familiarity with the general knowledge of the subject, as well as widespread misconceptions. It takes only a couple of seconds to read the statement and to respond. What is more, due to its simplicity and shortness, students can cover a substantial number of these questions during the examination time and examiners check the answers quickly. Nevertheless, it takes a stupendous amount of time to create the tasks.

The only drawback of this type of questions: there is a 50% possibility that students will guess the correct answer.

Matching Exam Questions

Carrying out this task, students are supposed to match the items from two columns with each other. For example, they may have terms in one column and definitions in the other. These questions require more detailed knowledge and a better understanding of the course’s content. They are not hard to create and mark, whereas students need more time to match the items.


Multiple choice A.The number of stems and choices is equal.
True/ False B. Two possible answers.
Matching C. One correct answer on the list of three or four.


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Short Answer Exam Questions

A brief prompt given in the short answer question demands a written answer the length of which can vary from a word or two to a few sentences. This type of questions is mostly used to test the understanding of key terms and facts.


It may take the following form:

“Why true/ false exam questions are not as popular as multiple choice?”

Answer: “The chances are higher that students will guess the correct answer.

Alternatively, these short answer exam questions can take the form of a fill-in-the-gap statement:

“_____________exam questions demand a written answer the length of which can vary from a word or two to a few sentences.”

Answer: “Short answer”

In addition, this type of questions can be utilized to check analytical and critical thinking, and evaluating skills.

“Will you include multiple choice questions on the exam list? Be sure to justify your answer mentions valid evidence that has influenced your decision.”

Besides being easy and fast to construct, short answer questions have other considerable advantages. First and foremost, students are unlikely to guess the correct answer. Second, despite the fact that students have more flexibility and are enabled to explain their understanding in their own words, their answers should be correct and precise. The minor drawback is that this type of questions is laborious to score and the assessment will be quite subjective.

Essay Exam Questions

A paragraph, a few paragraphs, a page, or a few pages – the length requirements for the written answer for this type of questions considerably vary. The openness of the assignment provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity. Besides, it allows students to focus on the application of the theory but not on the bare statistics. Furthermore, students will be deprived of the opportunity to bluff as far as not merely the length but also the content of their writing matter. These questions can be compiled pretty easily and quickly, but the assessment, which is subjective, will require additional time and effort.

Essay exam questions are more structured, more coherent, and a higher level of cognition, which includes synthesis, analysis, and evaluation, is required. It takes a longer time to write a five-paragraph essay than to answer five different questions, each in one separate paragraph. Oftentimes, students are in the state of panic during the exam, so to ease the whole process for them, it is advisable to give two or three questions and allow to choose one that appeals to them.

Remember that essay questions could be of the following subtypes: description, discussion, evaluation, and comparison.

Descriptive Essay Questions

With this type of essay writing, the writer should provide information on the essay topic without providing any commentary on it. It is unlikely, however, that university students will only be asked to provide a description; this is often just the first part of the question. In responding to these types of questions, all main points should be supported by relevant examples and/or credible evidence. The following are examples of the types of words you are likely to find in these types of questions: define, delineate, describe, explain, list, outline, present, state, summarize, trace.

Discussion Essay Questions

If you are asked to answer questions on discussion essays, you should list the main points about your topic, analyze them and, if appropriate, discuss the consequences. With these types of essays, you should provide evidence in support of any observations you make. The following are examples of the types of words you are likely to find in questions of this type: account for, analyze, comment on, consider, debate, discuss, examine, explain, explore, illustrate, interpret, review, show.

Evaluation Essay Questions

With this genre of question, the writer needs to select material that they can use to develop an argument or a certain train of thought. Academic guidelines require the argument to be presented from both sides. Generally, you will be asked to draw a conclusion and to support your own viewpoint with reasoning or with discussion on the evidence. Questions related to this essay type are often considered the most difficult. The following are examples of the types of words you will find in discussion essay questions: comment on, criticize, critically analyze, interpret, justify.

Comparative (or Comparison) Essay Questions

With these types of questions, you will be asked to show the likenesses and/or differences between two or more items. Comparison essay questions may require you to describe, discuss or evaluate the topic, depending on the nature of the question. The following are the types of words you will find in these comparison essay questions: analyze, compare, contrast, debate, distinguish, show the similarities/differences.

Please Note: There are some types of essays that require the writer to do several tasks (or at least more than one). You might be asked to describe the theories or main organizational structures behind modern-day management practices and discuss how these are relevant to your field of expertise.

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Computational Exam Questions

The distinctive feature of these questions is the need to make calculations to come up with the best solution. Putting it simply, this type of questions helps to assess the students’ ability to apply solution techniques. Before including them in the exam session, make sure to describe and model the correct format for the calculations, as well as explain to students how they need to justify their choices and answers.

Our Questions-Answers Essay Samples:

  1. Religious Studies and Theology Short Answers
  2. Biology Answers Questions Sample
  3. Science Short Answers Questions Sample
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