Composing Essay Questions

By Rod Lucero

There are two types of essay questions, those requiring a restricted response and those requiring an extended one. As an instructor you must decide which of these two types most effectively assesses the learning you are trying to evaluate.

Restricted-response questions

Extended-response questions

Here are some things to consider when writing essay questions:

  • Only use to measure complex learning outcomes
  • Relate the questions to the learning outcomes being measured
  • Formulate questions that present a clear task to be performed
  • Do not permit a choice of questions unless the learning outcome requires it
  • Provide ample time for answering and suggest a time limit to each question

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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