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Exam Question Validity

Imagine that a friend of yours was a student teacher, and they had sent you a copy of four test items (questions) they had written for an exam on American history and government. (This is not the whole test, just a few of the questions.) Because of your advanced training in measurement, they want your comments and suggestions.

1. Critique the items carefully, and determine if they would be suitable for such a test.

2. If any of the items would be acceptable with some "fixing," show how you would revise the item and explain why you made the change that you did.

[Note: your friend admits that question 1 is "a little ambiguous," but the students should remember what the teacher said was most important about George Washington.]

Here are the items:


1. George Washington was __________________.

2. Which U.S. President was Thomas Jefferson?
A. First
B. Ninety-third
C. Third
D. All of the above

3. Which of these was a U.S. President?

A. John Hancock
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Billy Graham
D. Robert E. Lee

4. An official who represents the United States in another country is called an ___?
A. legislator
B. foreign service agent
C. ambassador
D. dignitary

Solution Preview

1) You are correct in that this question is rather ambiguous. As long as there is not one 'right answer', however, then the item should be just fine. In other words, this question should be seen as 'subjective' by the teacher, since there are many possible answers. For example: Washington was the first President of the United States under the modern day Constitution, but he was also a commander in the army. Both of those answers, by way of explanation, would need to be scored as correct.

2) It is a ...

Solution Summary

The expert determines what would be a suitable test. The items acceptable with fixing the revise items are explained.