Composing True/False Questions

By Rod Lucero

Steering Clear of Ambiguity

Avoid using more than one idea in a True or False question. Make your main point prominent.

Good Example: All spiders have exoskeletons

Poor Example: All spiders have exoskeletons and only prey on insects.

Keep the statement short and simple. The question should be based on the learner’s knowledge and not their ability to interpret the question.

Good Example: A subject pronoun is used to replace another noun

Poor Example: Subject pronouns, which can be found only in the beginning of sentences and have no bearing on the word order, are used to replace nouns.

True statements should be true under all circumstances. Avoid using may, seldom, possible, often, and other qualifiers

Good Example: Solar energy is an alternative energy source

Poor Example: Solar energy is often used as an alternative energy source.

Use negative statements sparingly and do not use double negatives. Negative words are often overlooked and should be underlined or in capital letters.

Good Example: Bread and grain are at the bottom of the food pyramid.

Poor Example: Bread and grains are not at the top of the food pyramid.

Opinion statements should be attributed to some source. Instead of agreeing with the stated opinion, the students should be aware of the opinions of the organization or individuals.

Good Example: Dr. Bartels prefers using the Chaos theory to study science

Poor Example: Scientific method is the only way of studying science

When cause and effect relationships are being measured; use only true propositions.

Good Example: Sulfur dioxide produces sulfuric acid because of oxidation.

Poor Example: Sulfur dioxide produces sulfuric acid because sulfur gases are emitted from industrial smoke stacks.

Avoid extraneous clues to the answer. For example, always, never, none, all, only, etc.

Good Example: The nous form of the verb, when used in a command, means let's

Poor Example: The nous form of the imperative always means let's

See Also:

Copyright and Permissions:

Thanks to Dr. Rodrick Lucero, Assoc. Prof. in the School of Education, the Associate Director for the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation (STEPP), and Master Teacher Initiative (MTI) Coordinator for the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University for this Teaching Tip.


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor