Research Key

Students Perception on Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) in Ordinary Level English

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Qualitative method
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Descriptive statistics
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This research was based on the theme Students’ Perception of Multiple Choice Questions in Ordinary Level English. It is designed to find out the degree of adaptation students have towards the introduction of MCQs in Ordinary Level English.

This work is focused on students’ awareness of the pedagogic importance of MCQs, how they perceived MCQs in terms of ease and difficulty and the difficulties students encounter in answering MCQs. A questionnaire was designed as an instrument for the collection of data.

However, it was observed that students are generally aware of the pedagogic importance of MCQs, few of them perceived MCQs as easy and they all generally agreed that they face difficulties in answering MCQs in general. To solve some of the problems students encounter in MCQs, all school administration should hold seminars with their students to sensitize them on the worldwide use of MCQs and how they should read for as well as tackle test and exams containing MCQs. Thus, this work is set aside as a way forward for further research with regards to the impact of MCQs in students learning.



Multiple Choice Questions is a form of assessment in which testers are asked to select the best possible answer or answers from a list of responses or alternatives provided. The first large scale assessment using (MCQs) was for the Army Alpha developed by Robert Yerkes and six others to assess the intelligence of World War I recruits (C.R. Atwell 1937:,451).

MCQs are appropriate for use with objectives that call for the students to do some task such as recognize, distinguish between, select and relate. Some of the most thorough work regarding MCQs has been done by Thomas Haladyna (1999).

He presents four types of contents(facts, concepts, principles and procedures) and five types of cognitive behaviours (recalling, understanding, predicting, evaluating and problem-solving) while MCQs can be used to measure all these, he suggests that context-dependent item set( a set of MCQs based on new content that is presented as part of the assessment) or constructed response ( short answers, completion or essay) are more appropriate for critical thinking and problem solving than independent multiple-choice questions.

Furthermore, Crooks (1988), Mcteachie (1986) and Wergin (1988) report that students study in a way that reflects how they think they will be tested. This has a direct effect on the way they perceive the methods used to assess them either positively or negatively.

Background of the Study

Educational psychologist Edward Thorndike developed prototypes of multiple-choice tests early in the 20th century. In 1914 Frederick Kelly, dean of the college of education of the University of Kansas, introduced multiple-choice test which was then adapted by Lewis Terman, who develop the Stanford – Binet intelligence test and a host of other exams claiming to measure knowledge, critical thinking and reading comprehension.

With the invention of high-speed scanners and computers, multiple-choice test quickly became a favoured method of students’ assessment as it requires little reading and content analysis and could be administered to large classes with ease.

At present, the multiple-choice exams are perceived by many educators as prophylactic against what Horace Mann once called the officious interference of the teacher, and what others recognize as subjectivity and favouritism. (Madaus, G. and Dwyer, L.M. (1999). “A Short History of Performance Assessment”).

Statement of the Problem

It has been realized that from the re-introduction of MCQs in the GCE Ordinary Level Examination in June 2000, students face difficulties and English language students are no exception. Before then, debates of its introduction had animated the political and educational platforms since the early 2000s.

The MCQs are aimed at ensuring effective coverage of the syllabus by teachers and students, instils objective thinking and problem-solving skills in the students. Multiple choice learns themselves to the development of objective assessment items, but without author training, questions can be subjective in nature.

Because this style of the test does not require a teacher to interpret answers, test takers are graded purely on their selections creating a lower likelihood of teachers bias in the results and above all, multiple-choice questions are the strongest predictors of overall students’ performance, compared with other forms of evaluations such as in-class participation, case of exams and written assignments.

Purpose of the Study

In general terms, this study is designed to find out the feelings and degree of adaptation (perception) of students to the introduction of MCQs in Ordinary Level English.

Specifically, this study seeks to:

  1. Find out the difficulties faced by students in answering MCQs in classroom assessment and standardised.
  2. Find out students awareness of MCQs in Ordinary Level English.
  3. Find out the knowledge students have on MCQs in general.
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