How your exams are created? Let’s find out

by Dr. Alan June 24, 2020

Scratching your head on seeing the question paper is a very common habit. Often the look of surprise on faces, as to how and from where did the professor find the question, is common. Hold on and read through, we bring you answers to all such doubts your mind holds. See how your exams are created.

The Nightmare Of  Students Before Exams

The concept of a test dates back to its initiation from China in 605AD. Since then test and exams are being created and used as assessment tools in all parts of the world.

Quite similar to your assignments and their creation, exams too need brainstorming by tutors for creation. Lots of effort are aligned to create a challenging but justified question paper based on learning outcomes.

How, Good Multiple Choice Questions are Created?

  1. It is not a job done in a day, that your tutor sits and designs a multiple choice question. It is over the term, that with covering of independent topics the tutor identifies a stem to develop a question that leads to a definite problem. This helps develop “versatile” multiples choice question. When I say “versatile”, I mean the choosing of question and their alternative choices as answers help test more than one level of learning.
  2. The target of selecting the multiple choices should be such that the best can be selected instead of the correct one. What I mean to say is that all options that suffice as the multiple choices for the stem should be correct. The test should be to choose the most appropriate answer. This aspect of framing the test confirms the versatility of the test.
  3. A tutor knows the ability that can be tested based on multiple choice questions. No forms of learning like application, articulation as well as explanation can be tested using multiple choice questions.
  4. A tutor spends quite a lot of effort to make up multiple choice tests reliable. The aspect of reliability comes in with the ability assessing capability of the test. A student cannot randomly guess and choose the closest option. And if he/she is able to do the same and score high, then the test can be considered to be “low” on parameter of reliability. This is one point that is highly considered when framing a multiple choice question.
  5. Other points of consideration to make the test reliable is to use simple language and avoid using association of the main discussion stem and key ideas. As a measure to enhance reliability, the focus of a tutor is to stick to one learning outcome for one question.
  6. A very important measure would be to check a test on its validity. A tutor’s effort to link question with learning outcomes helps a test to be valid.


Setting an exam paper is not an individual activity in most cases


The Process of Creation of an Exam Question Paper

Here our concerned area is majorly pertaining to subjective test. The idea to get an understanding how well a student can demonstrate what all knowledge and understanding he has on the specific topic or course chapter.

  1. Linking course objective to that with a framed question comes up as a major challenge when framing a question paper.
  2. Then comes in row is preparing the marking criteria.
  3. Special care is directed towards asking clear and unambiguous questions using simple language.
  4. Allocating approximate word count as well as marks also specify a special activity undergone minutely by a tutor for best creation.

Setting an exam paper is not an individual activity in most cases. It is carried out by a set of tutors and special committee created for the purpose. Every individual holds a specific role to justify the paper and its purpose.

  1. The exam committee usually comprises of tutors as well as senior examiners. A chief examiner takes up a decision for a question inclusion based on consensus mapping.
  2. Along with, a lead writer is chosen who works on basis of consensus to frame the idea of testing on decided learning outcome.
  3. Just not framing. In process of question paper creation for exam, a scrutinizer is usually appointed to check on quality and content.
  4. As part of the process, a close review of previous examination papers is done. From time to time, an effort to improve on quality of questions, is made. Based on such understanding typical decisions on choice of words, language, which may have seemed to be confusing are removed with suitable terminology.
  5. Based on reviewer inputs the level of challenge posed in a question is judged against the exam level capabilities and requirement.
  6. Paper modification in terms of quality, word count and difficulty level are reassured before confirmation by the exam committee.
  7. Based on all finalization’s, questions are clubbed to develop and structure the question paper.
  8. Target is always to create and club questions of different difficulty level to manage a balance between difficulty level, challenge posed and allocated time.


Lots of effort are aligned to create a challenging but justified question paper


With all such revisions an exam is created.

Considering the length of the process and its complexity level, one can well gauge the efforts involved in creating an exam.

So in your next Exam. Don’t blame a teacher and crib if you don’t know an answer. Your tutor has put high efforts to create that. Think of the effort gap you left at your end that you are in this situation.

Now that you know how the questions are formulated, there is nothing stopping you to prepare for your exams. Find some past exams and other useful study material from your University. You will be the high-flyer of your studies knowing the structure and the style of past exams for the specific professor or course you are taking.

Learn How To Write Better Assignments For Your University Course

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