Against multiple choice exams

All of the reasons I am opposed to multiple choice exams are predicated on the assumption that I understand the material and that multiple choice exams hinder me from demonstrating what I know. If, however, I didn’t know the material, or didn’t know it well, then I might be led to believe that I’d be better off with a multiple choice exam. After all, with multiple choice exams, at least there would be a chance I could "recognize" something and at least I have something to pick from. On a short answer exam, if I don’t know the material I’ll end up sitting there staring at blank sheets of paper for the entire exam period. Psychologically I think being able to pick an answer to a bunch of questions (even if the answers are wrong) is more comforting than having a bunch a bunch of blank spaces. A 50% is a 50%, regardless of whether you filled in all the bubbles and missed half or if you had a bunch of blank space on a short answer test. But while taking the test, the student will feel more confident filling in the bubbles than anything else.

Here is much more, from this blog, via Andrew Sullivan.  The piece could use a longer discussion of the law of large numbers, but it makes many points of interest.


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