Multiple-choice questions are often go-to questions for tests since they can be instantly graded in Canvas. This saves time and students appreciate the immediate feedback. It is a good idea to craft multiple-choice questions over time instead of doing it in one sitting. As you develop more questions you can utilize a question bank to pull from when creating a test.

Scenario or problem-based multiple-choice questions are some of the best types of multiple-choice questions. Give students a brief example or scenario that is realistic and related to the course material, then write one or more questions focusing on what students would do in that scenario or how they would apply course material to that scenario. This allows for more complex reasoning and can help you ask questions more focused on application than on recall.

Here are a few other practical tips:

  • The question stem should be complete and present a problem.
  • Keep the stem free of irrelevant material but include as much necessary info as possible in the stem to simplify the answers.
  • Don’t be negative! Unless absolutely necessary, state the problem and the answers in positive terms.
  • Be consistent with grammar and punctuation from the stem to the answers.
  • Never say never! Or all, always, or any other word that typically means it is a distractor answer.
  • Avoid “all of the above” or “none of the above” or use them sparingly.
  • All distractors should be plausible answers, but also make sure there is one correct or clearly best answer.
  • Rotate the position of the correct answer.

Save yourself time and collaborate on tests with other faculty teaching the same course. This can cut down on cheating by expanding the test bank of questions you can choose from each semester.

For more tips, check-out this article by Maryellen Weimer!


Miller, M. D., & Linn, R. L. (2013). Constructing Objective Test Items: Multiple-Choice Forms. Measurement and assessment in teaching (11th ed., pp. 193-216). Boston: Pearson.

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