Education

Mark it right

MCQs are a useful tool to assess knowledge and understanding of complex concepts   | Photo Credit: Freepik

Multiple Choice Question or MCQs are a type of standardised test used by teachers and other educators to assess a student’s knowledge and progress. MCQ-based tests are used from elementary school all the way to the university. While on the face of it, the MCQ paper seems easy, the process can be difficult especially when dealing with questions one is unsure about.

MCQs are a useful tool to assess knowledge and understanding of complex concepts. Since students can respond quickly to multiple choices, a teacher can quickly assess their mastery of various topics. It is also possible to score the items quickly and accurately. Essentially it is an exercise of memory, which is not always a bad thing. It depends on the nature of assessment goal.

How it works

MCQs allow for a standardised evaluation of the kind of information that stood out the most during lessons and allow for a quick data review. From the teaching standpoint, the evaluation takes less time and can be graded quickly using software programmes or physical machines. Since each question has a limited number of points, there is scope to ask many. This means much can be covered in the paper.

From the student’s perspective, with the information available, they need to make a reasoned choice. However, they also need to aware of possible incorrect answers and eliminate those. Repeated tests in short bursts can help improve memory, build long-term retention, and enhance retention. The common belief that MCQs are easy is not correct. Often the options are deliberately tweaked to make it appear as it all are correct. There is thus no room to bluff.

While MCQs have their benefits, issues arise due to the way the question is designed. The questions require considerable thought if they are to perfectly encapsulate the concepts that are being evaluated. A single incorrect or inappropriate word or example can invalidate the question. Sometimes, in subjects like Maths, a student may come up with multiple solutions to a problem that may be not be part of the options presented. This may lead to confusion. However ,MCQs have their place in the exam system and can help students and teachers if used intelligently.

The writer is the CEO, Oswaal Books


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 11:00:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/pros-and-cons-of-using-mcqs-to-test-students-knowledge/article37800611.ece

Next Story