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True/False Questions

A true-false questions is a specialised form of the multiple-choice format in which there are only two possible alternatives. These questions can be used when the test-designer wishes to measure a student's ability to identify whether statements of fact are accurate or not.

Example of a true/false question

T F         A poem with the following rhyme scheme could be correctly referred to as an English sonnet:   abab cdcd efef gg.

T F         All eukaryotic genes are organized into operons.

True-false questions offer lecturers a very efficient method of testing a wide range of material in a short period of time. They can also be combined within a multiple-choice to create the more complex assertion-reason item. However, true-false questions do have a number of limitations:

  • Guessing a student has a 1 in 2 chance of guessing the correct answer of a question.

  • It can be difficult to write a statement which is unambiguously true or false particularly for complex material.

  • The format does not discriminate among students of different abilities as well as other question types.


Suggestions for writing true-false questions:

  • Include only one main idea in each item.

  • As in multiple choice questions generally, use negatives sparingly.

  • Try using in combination with other material, such as graphs, maps, written material. This combination allows for the testing of more advanced learning outcomes. (Gronlund 1988)

  • Use statements which are unequivocally true or false.

  • Avoid lifting statements directly from assigned reading, lecture notes or other course materials so that recall alone will not permit a correct answer.

  • Generally avoid the use of words which would signal the correct response to the test-wise student. Absolutes such as "none", "never", "always", "all", "impossible" tend to be false, while qualifiers such as "usually", "generally", "sometimes" "often" are likely to be true.



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