Using Action Verbs in a Test

Definition: Action Verb – A verb which should be included in all test questions informing the student of how to answer the question – each learning objective has appropriate action verbs.
When writing test questions for formative and summative assessments, to make the student’s objective clear you will need to include a verb in the question which determines the action the student should take to complete the question – this will be your action verb.   

In the case of the above example the verb is identify.

This needs to reflect what action the student needs to complete in the question. It is often the case the action you wish the student to take cannot be asked directly in a multiple choice question. For example, you will not be able to ask the student to describe something directly; instead it would need to be incorporated into the question and answers.

You will have a freer reign of including action verbs in a less structured question type. For example, if you were to add an action verb in an essay type question, you would be able to ask the student an outright question without any answer constrictions. In this case, make sure to choose the required action verb carefully.

Note: The purpose of these articles is to provide you with general advice in the fields of assessment and testing. These articles are not intended to replace any regulations or instructions provided by your organisation, but may be used in conjunction with these materials to support the assessment process.

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