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Examples of test questions that will boost your efficiency

There are countless rules for formulating test questions, but if you want to become an assessment writing expert, there is nothing better than learning from real-life examples. This article will show the essential best and bad practices for creating quizzes, tests and exams.

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This guide is part of the Questions hub

Find out more interesting topics related to questions.

What do your questions need to produce good results?

A purpose

Before you start designing your evaluation and writing questions, think about what kinds you want to use. There are many types of questions and problems you can throw at your respondents, choose them wisely.

Different question types serve different purposes and give various insights. Even within one use case, such as recruitment, there are differences. You might be hiring for marketing-related positions, where open-ended and descriptive questions are the better option, or for dev jobs, where multiple-choice questions offer superior validity.

Remember that no best question type works in every case. Consider your goals before you start writing your quiz, test or exam.

A short and coherent stem

Keep this part well-organized and brief. A good question stem should encourage critical thinking. Go beyond requiring respondents to recall a simple word, a date, etc. It is especially significant in descriptive (essay, long-answer) questions. With some skill, you can also style your multiple-choice question to encourage deeper reflection, not just a simple recollection of subjects from your training session or lesson.

It works in recruitment cases and offers a wealth of information about the skills and knowledge of your applicants. It can also show who is capable of independent thinking and reasoning, which are priceless in marketing, HR or customer service departments today.

Ask broad questions that require your respondents to think. Avoid creating simple, factual problems, even for your multiple-choice tests. We discuss it in our article, which explains in detail how to write better test questions.

A number of good alternatives in MCQs

Aim for at least four in your multiple choice question examples to reduce the probability of blind guessing the correct one. Although teachers and trainers sometimes use three, it might not be enough to make your test results valid and reliable.

Avoid creating too many distractors. Anything above six alternatives might confuse your test-takers and decrease reliability instead of increasing it.

Present alternatives in logical order. Depending on the answers you create, arrange them alphabetically, chronologically, from most to least, etc.

Create questions more efficiently with AI

Generative AI changes how we live and work, including how we create questions. It allows business test authors to save time with automation and increases their productivity and the content quality of their quizzes, tests and exams.

Replacing manual question creation with an AI-assisted tool makes the generation of large volumes of single and multiple-choice questions based on any text material provided by the test author 10x faster.

The ability to generate questions using AI is a real game-changer for professionals who regularly perform assessments and evaluations, including business trainers, recruiters and team leaders.

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Start your question with an idea, then select the most appropriate type and only then write it down.d

Ideas for good true or false questions

True or false questions are a type of multiple-choice questions and are the easiest to prepare. That is why trainers, recruiters and teachers often use them for low-stakes, on-site and online tests.

Unfortunately, they offer only limited insights into the skills and knowledge of test-takers. It is best to use them for young learners (in primary education) or mixed with other question types, such as multiple choice or short answer.

Rules to follow to create better true/false questions


👍 Use only one main idea per question. Do not overcomplicate your tests by creating too-long stems. Keep it short, even if the problem facing your respondents is challenging.

👍 Use statements that your test-takers can describe as only entirely true or false. There should be no interpretation or subjectivity. Ambiguity is the archenemy of your tests, your respondents and the validity of evaluation results.


🚫 Avoid negatives in your questions. It creates another layer of complexity and adds stress to an already stressful on-site or online evaluation.

🚫 Never use double negatives. They can turn a simple question into a blurred phrase that your respondents will struggle to understand.

🚫 Your questions should never follow any patterns. If you arrange them in order, such as "true, false, true, false", "true, true, false, false", etc., one of two things will happen. Your test-takers might suspect a trap and select answers to avoid the pattern ("It can't be true and then false again!"). They might also fall for it and choose the wrong answers ("Because it should be true now").

🚫 Don't use "never", "none", "always", "every", or "all", as they most often indicate that false is the correct answer. Avoid "generally", "sometimes", and "often", as these usually signal that the correct answer is incorrect. These words can point to the correct or incorrect answer, and you might not even realize it.

🚫 Avoid tipping your respondents off with "a" or "an", as sometimes knowing if the correct answer begins with a vowel or consonant is all your student or trainee needs. One small mistake that can cost you a bit of test reliability is ending your questions with indefinite articles.

True/false question examples

Example 1

When creating true/false questions, simplicity is your best friend.

Why is this question good?

The stem is short and coherent. It contains a statement that is clear and causes test respondents no confusion.

Example 2
Example of Testportal based online test question.

Your stem should contain only the information necessary to understand and answer the question.

Why is this question good?

Unlike the previous true/false example, this one's stem ends with a question mark. Both approaches are correct if you keep the stem brief and easy to understand. Also, this is a question with a catch as it is about a very popular misunderstanding.

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Ask better questions to have better knowledge. Use better knowledge to succeed at your work.

Examples of good multiple choice questions

Discover bad and best practices of MCQ formulating to make your work with online tests, quizzes and exams much easier and more productive.

Example 1
Multiple choice question example from Testportal online quiz maker.

This is what a good multiple-choice question should look like.

Why is this question good?

The question's stem is short and coherent. It contains a single, definite statement with only one correct answer. It has all the necessary information for the respondents to find the correct answer and no unnecessary or tricky phrases.

All alternatives are viable. They are also parallel in length, and none catch the eye more than the others. Your test respondents won't be tricked into thinking that one of them must be correct just because it stands out from the rest.

Example 2
Multiple-choice question example from Testportal online test maker.

Make sure your question stem is unequivocal. Don't try to trick your respondents with overcomplicated content.

Why is this question good?

Again, the stem of this question is short and sweet. No ambiguity, no unnecessary words or phrases. Respondents don't have to guess what the test author meant. They just need to find the correct answer.

Example 3
Online test question from Testportal platform.

A good true/false question is easy to create, but your tests should include other question types, too.

Why is this question good?

Above is a typical true/false, multiple-choice question common in customer satisfaction surveys. The stem is very straightforward, which is crucial when asking about opinions or feelings.

Only two alternatives are available, so this question takes little time to answer. This way, a customer is not irritated by the answer taking too long, and it is unlikely that they abort answering this question and leave the survey unfinished.

Examples of bad multiple choice questions

MCQs are much more difficult to write than open-ended questions. Not only do you have to come up with a good idea and pay attention to the stem, but also to create plausible and coherent alternatives. See the examples of bad multiple-choice questions below and avoid those mistakes when creating your quizzes, test and exams.

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Problems with bad test questions? Avoid them by learning how to create engaging tests that give incredible results.

Example 1

Overcomplicated questions are less likely to give you valid results.

Why is this question bad?

Its stem is too complicated. Someone who knows how to do the math might still fail because they will not understand what they have to do.

What can you do to make this question better?

Simplify the stem. If the question is about mathematical skills, it should not at the same time check test-takers' language competencies.

Better version

This question is formulated correctly. It checks mathematic skills, not reading comprehension.

Example 2

After creating an MCQ, read it to ensure it contains no mistakes and is clear for your test-takers.

Why is this question bad?

This time, the stem is good, but there are two mistakes in the alternatives. They can affect question comprehension and point the test-takers towards the right answer or mislead them into selecting an incorrect one.

What can you do to make this question better?

Make all alternatives of similar length. Right now, answer number 3 stands out from the rest. Respondents might select it only because it is different, not because they know/suspect it might be the correct answer.

Eliminate the last alternative. Don’t use “all of the above”, “none of the above”, etc. They often mislead test-takers into selecting it without considering other options. Also, if they discover at least one incorrect alternative, they eliminate not only that one but the “all of the above”/“none of the above” as well, making the question easier to answer than you intended it to be.

Better version

Correct form. Respondents should have no problem understanding what this question is about.

Example 3

What if someone doesn't like this product at all?

Why is this question bad?

It is an example of a leading question. Unfortunately, it is biased and will not give you reliable and valid information. In another article about questioning methods you should be using in your work, we describe this type in detail.

Also, multiple-choice questions are far from the perfect choice when asking about emotions and impressions. They limit possible answers to those that you thought of only. Many respondents will not find an alternative that reflects their opinion. They might choose a random answer or not answer the question at all.

What can you do to make this question better?

Use open-ended questions. Do not assume that your respondents are always happy about your product or service when asking questions about customer satisfaction, etc., Instead, let them voice their concerns if they have any. With open-ended questions, their answers will be more genuine and let you improve their quality. Finally, split the question into two.

Better version

Here, respondents have a real alternative.


And here, they can speak their minds.

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Make your quiz, test and exam questions better to get reliable and actionable results.

Distractors in choice questions with examples

Distractors are the wrong answer options in multiple choice questions, and, as per the name, their job is to distract respondents. They are not there to help them fail but rather to make sure questions are challenging and provide adequate verification of skills and knowledge.

You should learn how to create good distractors in closed ended questions to ensure your alternatives are neither too easy nor too difficult for your test-takers. It is a time-consuming process, but it is worth the trouble. Once your test is ready, you will be able to grade all results rapidly, and if you use a proven online testing platform, it will do all the grading for you in seconds!

Examples of distractors in multiple-choice questions

Example 1
Example of multiple-choice online quiz question.

This question is challenging, but not because of improperly formulated alternatives.

Why are these distractors good?

All alternatives are of the same length. They include South American countries in more or less the same region. None of the distractions seems odd and can be written off as an incorrect answer.

Example 2
Testportal-based multiple-choice question.

Unfortunately, this question is bad on many levels.

Why are these distractors bad?

One alternative (d) is significantly shorter than the others. Some respondents are likely to think it must be correct or incorrect. One alternative (c) is vague, silly, and too obviously not the right answer. Finally, two answers (d and e) are, in fact, synonymous.

Examples of good open-ended questions

Avoid questions your respondents can answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Focus on one topic for each assignment, even if you require your test-takers to explain something thoroughly.

If you want to measure skills and knowledge with descriptive questions:

  • Remember to ask for facts, not opinions.

  • Create a thesis that your respondents can explore based on their proficiency with the subject and objective evidence.

  • Ask them to compare, describe, explain and show the relations (or lack thereof), starting with the words 'why', 'how', 'explain' or 'describe'.

  • If you require test-takers to share their views and opinions, make sure you include this in the stem of your question.

If you want your test-takers to prepare answers of a specific volume, don't hesitate to include a word limit and allow a margin of 10-20% (for example, a word limit of 200, with a 10% margin requires respondents to write between 180 and 220 words.

Example 1

Descriptive questions require simple and coherent stems, too.

Why is this question good?

It sets a clear goal (explain) and subject (Kaizen productivity philosophy) for the respondents. It also includes a reasonable word limit.

Example 2

Questions like this one guarantee valid results of your quizzes, tests and exams.

Why is this question good?

This question makes it clear that it requires respondents to share their opinions on the subject. It would be perfect for any kind of survey, including customer satisfaction, etc.

Example 3

This question is about opinions, so how can you tell if an answer is correct or incorrect?

Why is this question bad?

This question is, in fact, about the personal preferences of the respondent and not about an objective fact. The results you receive might be useless, as you didn’t narrow down what kind of opinion you expect from the respondent.

What can you do to make this question better?

Avoid using vague phrases, such as “the best”, “the ultimate”, and “leading” in all kinds of questions, or add a fragment describing in whose opinion something is good or bad. If you want to explore rather than measure, choose descriptive questions and leave short open-ended for measuring purposes.

Better version

This question is better because there is a clear reference to the source of information.

Example 4

If you require descriptive answers from your respondents, make sure you let them know about it.

Why is this question bad?

Test-takers can answer it with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. It also asks for an opinion, so it will be difficult to grade any answer as correct or incorrect as it shows a personal view on this topic. This should have been a true/false question, not a descriptive one.

What can you do to make this question better?

Make it a truly descriptive question. Change the stem so that respondents can't answer by simply writing 'yes' or 'no. Add a word limit so that test-takers know how long their answers should be.

Better version

A correct version includes clear requirements for the test-takers.

Biased test questions examples

Everyone has biases, including recruiters, trainers, team leaders or teachers. It's in our nature to use mental shortcuts called stereotypes. However, to get reliable results, hire the right people, deliver quality training and make an impact with our teaching, we must learn to overcome them.

The best way to achieve that is by getting familiar with different examples of test questions with biases. You should learn how they might affect how we create our business and educational tests.

Cultural bias

This bias involves teachers or trainers who fail to consider cultural diversity when creating tests for their groups. People come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and traditions. If educators cannot ensure that their tests follow all the cultural codes, it is better to abandon any such references.

Examples of cultural bias test questions look like this one. The Jamaican national bobsleigh team participated in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. However, an average islander would struggle to answer questions about snowy winters.


Tropical island inhabitants would most likely struggle to answer this question correctly.

Another example of open ended questions with cultural bias is asking kids what month Christmas Day is. A child from an Eastern Orthodox Church family would answer "January". To any teacher from the western Catholic culture, that answer would be incorrect, as they would most likely not know that Orthodox Church uses a different calendar from the Catholic and all their feasts are two weeks later.

Finally, when you show a book opened 3/4 of the way to European, Jewish and Arab children and ask them how much is left, you might get two completely different answers. A European student will likely answer "1/4", while Jewish and Arab students will say "3/4" because they read from right to left and their books open backwards.

Method bias

Method bias refers to how you administer your evaluation. Some respondents might be unfamiliar with a specific methodology, while others might know it well. Problems often occur when learners move from one country and educational system to another, which favors different types of tests.

It is something that recruiters should consider when hiring for multinational companies. Creating biased questions might result in invalid results when there are applicants from different countries and cultures.

Test-taking is a skill, and students should receive adequate training to master it. When taking a test or sitting an exam, you should never surprise them with a question type with which they are unfamiliar.

Construct bias

This bias type refers to situations when the concepts measured during the test are not universal.

For example, a high school student from the USA would have no problem naming most state capitals. They would also struggle to name capital cities of important European countries, apart from the UK, France and maybe Italy.

Does it mean that US learners are ignorant of geography? No. The American educational system concentrates on what is crucial from its point of view, and so does the European one.


Most people from outside the US wouldn't know the answer to this question...


... and neither would most people from outside Europe to this one.

Another example of construct bias is asking questions based on information more specific to one gender. Writing an essay on a football-related problem might be easier for boys, who, on average, tend to enjoy watching this sport more than girls do.

Item bias

Item bias questions usually contain stereotypical language patterns. They might include using western names, which favors those students who grew up with this understanding.

An example of item bias is the use of Latin words and phrases when evaluating learners from countries which use languages other than those derived from Latin. Western learners will understand many words and phrases, even if they don't know the language of ancient Rome.


Latine loqueris (Do you speak Latin)?

Good questions to ask on a quiz

A quiz is a low-stakes evaluation, which is short and informal. It is quick to prepare and deploy to test learners' comprehension level of the current training or course material. A quiz provides teachers and trainers with principal insights into their students' or trainees' performance and progress.

Quizzes, including general knowledge quiz questions, should be fast, so avoid complex questions that require your respondents to stop and think for a while. To check how they comprehend the topic of your lesson or training session, all you need is a mix of true/false, multiple-choice and short-answer questions.

As a rule of thumb, refrain from including descriptive (essay) questions. Leave those for occasions when your test-takers have more time to provide their answers. To find out what is an open ended question example that is the best in each case, the best way is trial and error.

Limit the number of questions to a maximum of 10. If you can go down to 5, it's even better. It is just enough to get the information you need, especially when all you need to do is a simple school exit slip or gather feedback after a professional development training session.

Always remember that you will have to check those quizzes afterwards. Put a manageable workload on yourself. The more time your respondents spend answering your quiz questions, the more time you will have to commit to grading their work to get the actionable insights you are looking for.

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You can also take advantage of remote test platforms to get the most out of your online assessments.

Summary: why you should know examples of test questions

Knowing how to write test questions is a skill that will elevate your daily duties. Valid and reliable data are the basis of efficient work. They are important whether you are a professional recruiter, team leader, trainer, teacher or college professor.

Even if you have just started your career path, remember that if you follow the simple steps and advice from our article, your skills will improve with each test you create. So will your results, which will let you grow professionally.

👉 The first step is to learn all the above bad practices to avoid them in your evaluations.

👉 Then, use best practices to start making your questions more complex and engaging.

👉 When you feel confident, experiment and find your way of authoring quizzes, tests and exams.

👉 Always review your tests. Or, even better, have someone inspect them for you.

👉 Avoid biases and subjectivity.

👉 Skillfully use multiple-choice, open-ended and descriptive questions to get insights into work qualifications, employee performance or general knowledge.

Stick to this plan, and very soon, you will advise others on how to be a professional, efficient author of questions for a quiz, a test or an exam.

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