Are Multiple-choice Items Too Fat?

Thomas M. Haladyna, Michael C. Rodriguez, Craig Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The evidence is mounting regarding the guidance to employ more three-option multiple-choice items. From theoretical analyses, empirical results, and practical considerations, such items are of equal or higher quality than four- or five-option items, and more items can be administered to improve content coverage. This study looks at 58 tests, including state achievement, college readiness, and credentialing tests. The evidence here supports previous assertions. The article also clarifies distractor functioning criteria and offers a typology of items via distractor functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-364
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Measurement in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Are Multiple-choice Items Too Fat?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this