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Multiple-choice Questions: Linking Teaching and Learning

This document provides criteria that may be considered when choosing and creating appropriate multiple choice questions.  Examples are drawn from the Social Studies 20 & 30 programs of study however the criteria and principles are applicable across programs of study.


This document provides criteria to use when choosing and creating multiple-choice questions. The criteria and principles for development of suitable questions are applicable across programs of study.

Sample questions in this document are repurposed multiple-choice questions from Social Studies 33 and Social Studies diploma examination banks. Each sample question from the diploma examination bank met the psychometric test standards established by Learner Assessment. Also included are questions developed by teachers in a project with the Central Alberta Regional Consortium and the Calgary Regional Consortium. Sample questions include a rationale for selection and identify specific learner outcomes correlated with the program of studies.

To align with the rationale and philosophy of the new program of studies, sample questions were chosen according to these criteria.

  • The question addresses and tests knowledge and understanding outcomes and/or skills and processes outcomes in the program of studies.
  • The question tests understandings and concepts rather than the recall of facts.
  • In source-based questions, the focus is on analysis instead of recall; that is, the focus is on skills that frame knowledge as purposeful (analysis) rather than on skills that test knowable facts (recall).

Diploma examination bank questions that were applicable to the previous Grade 12 program of studies were reviewed according to the program outcomes for Social Studies 20-1 and 20-2. Both discrete questions (questions without sources) and source-based questions are provided. Also included are sample questions developed by teachers to meet the criteria for suitable questions.

The sample questions have been grouped into the following four categories.

  • Category 1 questions met the criteria without changes to the stem or distracters for use in the 20-1 and 20-2 sequences.
  • Category 2 questions were revised to meet the criteria for use in the 20-1 and 20-2 sequences.
  • Category 3 questions were rejected for use in the 20-1 and 20-2 sequences.
  • Category 4 questions were developed by teachers for use in the 30-1 and 30-2 sequences.

In the sample questions, an asterisk (*) indicates the correct answer.

Next Section: Category 1

Last updated: August 31, 2010 | (Revision History)
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