Principles Of Constructing Examination Questions

Do you want to know the principles of constructing examination questions? Here in this article, you will discover the step-by-step principles of the construction of examination questions. The most important characteristic of any set of examination question papers is its validity, that is the extent to which the set questions are capable of achieving the aims of the course.

Examination questions set are only relevant if they are capable of determining how much the students have learned.

8 Principles Of Constructing Examination Questions

In constructing examination questions, the following principles should be observed:

1. The wording of the questions must be clear, concise, and unambiguous.

2. Consider the time available for writing the examination. The time should be stated on the question paper and it should be sufficient to allow the candidates to complete the examination. Also, the time available for marking the examination answer script should be considered.

3. State the number of points for which full marks would be awarded. For example: “State five advantages” is preferable to “Discuss the advantages of”…

4. As far as possible, questions on principles and calculations should relate to a practical application.

5. Use conventional abbreviations, diagrams, symbols, units, and terminologies in writing question items.

6. Avoid the use of the word “you”. For example: What do you know about? However, “On your diagram label”, is acceptable.

7. The wording of the question should indicate the length and precision of the answer expected. Questions beginning with “List” or “State” imply that only a few words are expected in the answers, whereas “Describe” and “Explain” indicate that longer answers are expected.

“Draw”, “Develop”, and “Calculate” point to more accurate answers than “Sketch” and “Find”. Wording such as “Comment On”, “Write An Account Of” And “Write Notes On” leave the candidate in doubt as to the length and extent of the answer required and should normally be avoided. Candidates should not have to guess the intention of the examiner.

8. Question items must be written in such a language level that all the candidates being examined can comprehend.

These are the 8 principles of constructing examination questions.

However, after the construction of examination questions, there are two final application methods to consider when constructing examination questions. The two methods are:

1. Moderating the set examination question And
2. Marking Scheme

1. Moderating The Set Examination Question

Before submitting the set question paper, the examiner should assess individual questions based on the following points:

1. Is the question on the table of specifications?

2. Is the question of suitable length and difficulty bearing in mind the composition of the question paper as a whole and the class of students?

3. Does the question test important knowledge and abilities? For example, is it relevant to the practical situations the candidate is likely to encounter in his job?

4. Is the question technically accurate? Does it include all the necessary information and data?

5. Are the terminology, units, abbreviations, and symptoms used correct and conventional?

6. Is the question correctly worded and unambiguous?

7. Is the candidate given a clear indication of the length and type of answer expected?

8. Is the question sufficiently structured?

9. Is the question presented in the best possible way?


10. Does the question contain difficult or obscure words or abbreviations which the candidate should not be expected to know?

11. Does the question require knowledge of formulas, constants, regulations, etc? Which candidate cannot reasonably be expected to memorize?

12. Is the solution contain materials or data not asked for in the question?

13. Is the solution given technically accurate?

14. Does the solution represent a suitable answer to the question as set?

15. Is the marking scheme reasonable? Does it reflect fairly the amount of work involved in each part of the question?

2. Marking Scheme

The marking scheme consists of a detailed listing of the major points to be supplied by the student as well as the marks to be awarded to such points.

A marking scheme is one generally accepted way of reducing the effect of extraneous considerations by the examiner. As already stated, it is a means of increasing the reliability of examination questions as measures of academic achievement.

Marking schemes must be made for all set questions to enable the examiner to appreciate the full intent of the questions.

It is ideal to provide the model answers and the marks allocated. The marking scheme should be given with the solution and should indicate the number of marks awarded for each part of a question (including each stage in a calculation) and the total marks for the question.

Marks should not be awarded for writing ability, neatness, presentation, or similar aspects unless they are essential to the subject being examined.

Discretionary marks or bonus marks are not necessary and should not be included in marking schemes.

Criteria For Effective Construction Of Examination Questions

The examination questions set are only relevant if they are capable of determining how much the students have learned.

For an examination paper to be valid, the following should be ensured:

1. Questions are set from all parts of the syllabus.

2. The number of questions set in each of the syllabus sections must reflect the relative importance of these sections.

3. The set questions test all the intellectual skills expected to result from the course. The difficulty level of the questions should be appropriate. This implies that the examiner should identify the major sections (or topics) of the course as contained in the NBTE syllabus and course specifications and draw his questions from these sections.

If any section of the syllabus is not represented by the questions, the examination paper ceases to be adequately relevant.

The questions set should also test for categories of abilities reflecting varying degrees of intellectual (cognitive) and manual skills. While constructing exam questions, the examiner should make sure that some of the items should test for knowledge and understanding. While other items should test for application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.


After knowing the principles of constructing examination questions, it is also important to neatly produce or typeset your examination question papers.

And finally, the construction and preparation of examination questions, including marking scheme forms are all essential processes in the educational sector. And the process must be properly conducted to ensure validity and reliability.

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