Multiple choice questions (MCQs)

MCQs can be used as formative or summative assessment, and if used electronically can provide immediate feedback. When writing questions, try not to just test what facts students have remembered, but challenge them to apply concepts, and analyse and evaluate information.

Good MCQs take time to construct, and so lead-in time is high; but this is set against much quicker or automated marking even for large cohorts.

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


  • Short answer questions
  • Presentation


Much of the effort goes into the design of the MCQs. If properly designed, marking should be either automatic, or easy to complete against a correct-answer sheet.


Automated marking can give students instant feedback on the questions they answered incorrectly. More detailed feedback explaining why answers are correct or incorrect can be added to most MCQ systems, Blackboard included.

Further reading

Guidelines for writing effective MCQs, including ideas for assessing higher-order thinking:


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

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