Short answer questions

Like multiple choice questions, short answer questions can be a quick way of assessing a wide range of knowledge and understanding. They can also be used formatively to develop students’ reflective skills.

Workload guide

Preparation time Medium Student workload Medium Marking time Medium

Literacies and skills exhibited

  • Developing arguments, reflecting, evaluating and assessing
  • Analysing data and reviewing
  • Recalling, describing, identifying and relating


  • Multiple choice questions
  • Presentation


Unlike MCQs, short answer questions are normally marked manually (although tools are available that can search for the presence or absence of certain words or phrases in a response, allowing some limited automated marking). If the questions are properly worded, a set of ‘model answers’ should be available for markers to mark against.


If delivered as part of an examination, see written exam. Otherwise, comments can be added in context with particular answers, or in summary comments where students need to focus on overarching areas.


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

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