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How many types of test items are there for assessments?

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M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When assessing and evaluating student knowledge, teachers can choose from a range of different activities. However, in standardized or teacher-made tests, the teacher can choose to use objective and/or subjective items as questions. It all depends on what outcome the teacher aims to achieve.

Objective test items are specific questions which seek specific, and factual answers drawn from either recognition, or recall. Examples of objective test items include:

  • True or false questions
  • Multiple choice
  • Fill in the blank
  • Organize/classify information
  • Matching
  • Short, exact answers to an objective question

Subjective test items are more complex because they may ir may not have a "right or wrong" final answer. This is because the subjective test item aims to assess the depth, while not the breath or application, of the student knowledge. These types of items are called "Constructed Responses" (CR) and require more time and analysis than an objective test item. It also takes longer to grade as it often aims to meet certain criteria. There are different types of subjective test items, as well.

  • Extended response items- Students have to respond on more than one topic in one same answer providing details, counter-arguments, and examples; closing statements and conclusions are also required at times. Argumentative essays are a good example of this.
  • Restricted "tapered" response- Students have to respond to a question in brief but showing depth of knowledge. An example of these are "Why" and "How" questions.
  • Open ended response- The student is allowed to answer a question with no final answer showing descriptive writing skills and specific mastery of written communication.

Both types of test items are equally useful to assess knowledge, but each should be used in balance with the other, and for specific academic purposes.

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