GQA Qualifications Blog

Monday 30 January 2012

Multiple Choice Questions - Learning or not?

Are multiple choice questionnaires a valid way of learning? Is passing a multiple choice test just pure luck, common sense or proof of knowledge? Can you pass a multiple choice test just be reading the subject and then a process of elimination?

One example of multiple choice tests changing is that the driving theory test will now pose more of a challenge because answers to multiple choice questions will no longer be published in learning materials. The change has been made to stop candidates from simply memorising theory test questions and answers and learning them by rote. Transport minister Mike Penning said: “It is to improve candidates’ knowledge and understanding of driving theory.” An AA study has revealed 23 per cent of the 11,361 drivers polled did not know who had priority when traffic lights were not working – nobody has priority. So still using multiple choice, but recognising that people were passing by rote learning - memorising without understanding.

So what about multiple choice questions in vocational qualifications? Multiple choice tests may be helpful in determining what stage a candidate is at in their learning cycle, and provision can then be made for further learning and assessment but they should never be used as a principle method of assessing knowledge - in our view. 

Yours may differ; tell us if so.