Ensuring Quality of Written Questions

When constructing content for an assessment, you will need to ensure that questions are of a high written quality. Questions must be both clear and free of any bias, as confusing or biased questions will negatively affect the candidate's answer, thus preventing their final mark from accurately reflecting their level of knowledge and understanding. Below are some tips for maximising the quality of written questions:

Spelling and Grammar

The first time the candidate reads a question, they will be simply processing what it is asking of them. It is likely they will re-read it several times to fully understand what the question is asking of them. Consequently, it is vital that spelling and grammar are precise and clear. Incorrectly allocating punctuation, or using the wrong their/there/they're could alter a question, so it is recommended to have at least two or three people look over questions for mistakes or typographical errors. 

Ask a Single Question 

Don't overwhelm the candidate by asking multiple questions within one question. If a question requires multiple details or sections, lay out one core question then specify the parts required underneath, or split it over multiple questions. 

Avoid Personal Biases 

Unless it is absolutely required, avoid references to race, ethnicity, gender. e.g. use police officer instead of policeman. When referring to personal or controversial issues, remain neutral and avoid sounding judgemental. Where references may be required, aim to represent a diverse range of people. The goal is to ultimately ensure your questions aren't biased one way or another as this would distract the candidate. You may find it helpful to have someone read the questions, then ask them if they noticed any biases in the content. 

Maintain a Simple, Formal Style 

Do not use slang or casual terms in your questions, unless you are quoting another piece of text. The style of questions should be simple and clear, but written in a formal style. The only complex words being used should be terminology in relation to the question e.g. a biology question might include the word "photosynthesis". 

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To learn more about writing items in Surpass, visit the Different Item Types section of the Surpass Help.

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