Closed type (closed-ended) questions

Open - Closed source:

From an instructional point of view () we split the test item types in two big categories for technical purposes: closed and open type questions. The simple reason is, that the closed type questions (where the answer is pre-defined) may be assessed automatically while open questions (where the answer can be openly constructed) are still assessed manually by teachers (tutors, instructors) although with the development of AI (artificial intelligence) this statement will have to be changed soon. In instructional learning theory the instant feedback is essential for effective learning, therefore in computer based on-line evaluation we concentrate on closed type questions. It is important to mention that we speak about question types that are methodologically different, but are referring technically to the same question type: The odd one out for example is a simple multiple choice question.

Traditional question types with some hints







The simplest question type. Best for definitions, or statements.

simple, quick, unambigous

Its easy to guess that if frequently used it may become boring

Use proper statement!
Use negative scoring to false answers to minimise guessing
Try to make Multiple choice out of 4-5 true-false questions

Multiple choice

Most commonly used type. Almost every closed type test can be converted to Multiple choice.
It’s two main sub types are: single answer, multiple answer.

Well known
Most of congitive skills can be tested with it.
Easy to feed-back on each distractor.

Easy to guess if the nubmer of distractors are low. (2-3)
Sometimes the good solution is ambigous.

Use realistic distractors
Use same complexity in distractors
Avoid grammatical help in distractors
Use at least 4-5 distractors


Relatively well known and powerful question type for a number of cognitive skills. It is also called pairing.

Good for finding pair of words, expressions, definitions. Good for categorsiation.
Good for ranking as well.

At least three possibilites must be offered astwo would allow 50% chance for guessing.
The last choice can be logically guessed.
Feedback design is complicated.

Avoid grammatical help in he choices.
Try to design more answers than questions.
In case of ranking, avoid shuffling.

Short answer (fill-in the blank)
Short answer

Powerful tool for active remembering.

You can test active knowledge.
No ambiguity with distractors.

Hard to evaluate „almost” good answers: typo, accent, conjungtion, etc.

Use only for the most clear memortiter situations: names, specific expressions, terms.
Try to give as explcite guidance in the question as possible.


Powerful tool for remembering numbers. A variation of short answer

The same pro-s as in the case of the short answer, but with less uncertainty in evaluation.

There is still some room for misunderstandings: roman numbers, decimal points, written form of numbers.

Try to give as explicite guidance in the question as possible.

More on this:,

On-line solutions and hints

Since on-line testing has been introduced, there were many more question types developed, however some of them are only technically different, but methdologically equal to well known question types listed above and there are also completely new type of questions. Let us list sometypes in addition to the main list above:

  • Select missing words from a dropdown menu. It is methodologically equal to a multiple choice question. If a text contains more missing words, then it is a combined multiple choice test. Hint: it is hard to develop specific feedback if more words are missing.
  • Drag and drop into text. If there is one missing word, then it is equal to a multiple choice, if there are more missing words, with different cohorts of (typically coloured) text, it is a combined multiple choice test. If there are more missing words with one cohort of choices, than it is equal to a Maching question. Hint: Feedback construction needs attention in cases of more than one missing word.
  • Drag and drop labels (markers) into image. This is a graphical test, where we show with a marker text (label) the required area.
  • Drag and drop images to a background image. It is also a graphical test type, with more possibility of graphical construction.
  • Calcuated answer. This type of question is similar to numeric test, but the aswer is calculated by a formula or function, and the answer may be accepted by a pre-set tolerance.

There are however as many question names and types as vendors on the market. There are custom programmed systems as well, where we can meet with different solutions of closed type questions.

Hints for paper based quiz practicioners in on-line environment
  • Electronic testing systems may shuffle questions and items, hence there is no need (but not forbidden) to use numbering before the choices.
  • There is no need to manually decide which choice position should be the good answer, it is quicker to stick to a local rule, for example, all first choices are the good choices in the question bank.
  • Feedback is important in testing, it is highly recommended to author feedback to all test items, even to re-developped old set of quizes.
  • For practicioners who are used to feedback but new to complex learning environments, it is recommended to check the machine given feedback patterns to avoid duplication of feedback text.
  • LCM Systems (like Moodle) offer a large variety to enter feedback: general feedback, specific feedback after all choices, combined feedback after good, partly good or bad answers. It is recommended to discover the specific roles of and differences between those feedbacks.
  • The role and position of test items may be different from the traditional post-test type quizes, therefore it is important to learn about on-line evaluation methodolgy before making decisions about different possibilities.

Typical on-line settings

After having demonstrated that on-line testing can be technically different, there is an area that has never occured in non-digital (print) environment and needs some introduction: the settings of the on-line test. There are several settings in different systems, but in most cases we have settings of test items and settings of the quizes that contain a selection of items.

Item settings
  • Question name
  • Default mark
  • Shuffling the choices
  • Numbering the choices (a, A,1, i, I)
  • Grade setting (from 100% to -100%)
  • Feedback: General, Choice, combined
  • Multiple tries: Hints
Quiz settings
  • Time: open, close, time limit, time between attempts
  • Attempts: one, more, unlimited
  • Grading: grade to pass, method (first, last, highest, average)
  • Item behaviour: Shuffle mode, behaviour (adaptive, deferred feedack, immediate feedback)
  • Review: During the attempt, after the attempt, later in open mode, after close
  • Overall feedback: setting of quiz feedback between grade boundries from 0% to 100%
  • Selection and weighting of items: specific or random selection from the question bank with possible weighting between different items.

Grading approach

Why do we deal with grading? Because in on-line testing environment we need to use one. But there are many local requirements, regulations and traditions for grading. In addition we create courses in the complex contexts of Higher, Vocational and General education.Well designed learning managmement systems like Moodle or Ilias offer to build different taxonomies to different course environments.

The default grading normally is a 100 point system where it is easy to show learner achievement in percentage. But many environments need to be adapted to a 1-5 (5-1), 1-7, 1-20 grading (scaling) system. There are also more simple grading systems in adult education like: excellent-good-fair-fail or simply: pass-fail.

Some grading systems:

Next: Open type (open-ended) questions

Previous: What is an „on-line test”?

Utolsó módosítás: 2017. September 15., Friday, 12:31