Two Major Types Of Examination Questions

The education process is a major component that is very important in the society. Meanwhile, the examination is also part of education. And that is why in this article we are going to discuss the two major types of examination questions. However, you are advised to read this article carefully.


2 Types Of Examination Questions

Here are the two major types of examination questions used in school:

1. Essay Examination Questions

2. Objective Examination Questions

1. Essay

An essay question is one in which a student is free to develop his answers as he chooses.

Essay-type questions may be:

1. Short Answers:

This requires the student to provide written answers of a few lines in length to brief questions: e.g. write short notes on any four of the following: Planning, Controlling, Directing, Motivation, and Staff Placement.

2. Long Essay:

This requires the student to provide a long, comprehensive, written, answer of about two or more pages to a question. For instance: state and explain five methods of gathering data in a research process.

The main advantage of the short answer over the long Essay type is that it can be used to test a much greater cross-section of the syllabus than the long Essay.

Advantages Of Essay Type Of Examination Questions

The main advantages of essay type of examination questions are:

1. Emphasis is on students’ ability to organize their knowledge and express ideas logically.

2. It enables a student to organize his knowledge into an integrated whole to interpret, compare, criticize, or defend a particular position.

3. Adaptability of questions to a variety of subject matter.

4. It eases of construction and administration of tests.

5. It enables a student to qualify his answer rather than make an unsubstantiated response.

Limitations Of Essay Type Of Examination Questions

Examinations based on essays have the following limitations:

1. Limited sampling of course content may not adequately show what a student has learned.

2. Subjectivity of assessment e.g. Halo effect and extraneous factors may influence the examiner.

3. The influence of students’ communication skills, (or lack of it) may cause them to bluff or bring in irrelevant information.

Exam Questions

4. The time-consuming nature of assessment.

Key Words In Essay Questions

In setting examination papers, the examiner must know exactly what he expects from the students, and these expectations should be embodied in the keywords of the questions framed. For example:

1. When the examiner wants the student to tell all that he knows about a certain question, he may use such terms as Account for; then explain the cause of the event using the below strategy:

Describe; outlined in words the characteristics.

Relate; show how things are connected and to what extent they are alike or affect each other.

Discuss; examine by argument, giving reasons for and against.

Narrate; give a continuous account of.

Review; examine a subject critically.

State; give the main points in brief, clear sequences.


2. If the examiner is looking out for certain specific characteristics of certain limited facts he may use the following key Words:

Compare; give the qualities that resemble each other (in some cases mention differences).

Contrast; set two things in opposition to show their differences.

Define; give the exact meaning of

Diagram; sketch the features of an object needed for exposition

Differentiate; give the difference between

Distinguish; point out the difference between one thing from another

Explain; make known in detail

Identify; show absolute sameness of

Illustrate; explain by example

Prove; show that something is true by giving clear logical reasons.

3. When the examiner expects students to give the important facts or characteristics without elaborating on them all, he may use such keywords as Enumerate, List, Outline, Summarize, Tabulate, Trace, etc.

4. If the examiner is interested in finding out students’ opinion and how they can substantiate it, he may use the following keywords:

Comment; write explanatory notes

Criticize; express a judgment about the merit or truth of the factors or views mentioned.

Evaluate; give a careful estimate of the problem citing advantages and limitations

Interpret; make out the meaning of

Justify; give reasons for conclusions convincingly.

2. Objective Type Of Examination Questions

In the objective type of examination questions, possible questions to the questions are incorporated with the question and the student is required to select the correct answer. The objective type of examination questions does not require the student to write much. It may take the form of:

1. True or False:

In this type, a statement is presented and the student is then asked to state whether it is true or false, e.g. One of the sources of research topics is personal experience, True/False.

This type of test is relatively easy to produce. The limitation is that answers are often guessed and the success rate depends only on what the student knows, but also on chance.

2. Multiple Choice:

In this, a question is posed and several alternative answers are supplied. The student is asked to select the correct answer from the alternatives. For example:

Which of the following is not a method of data analysis?

(a) T.Test (b) Mean (c) Chi-square (d) Percentage (e) Hypothesis

The multiple choices involve higher order of reasoning than the true/false question type. For effective test questions, each alternative in a multiple-choice response must be plausible i.e. it must reflect the sort of answers students at that level can give. The examiner must ensure that only one response is the correct answer.

3. Matching Items:

Here, two lists of items are given in which an item in one list is to be matched with an item in the other.

4. Completion Types:

A sentence is presented with one or more missing words, which the student must provide. For instance:

The idea of randomization was propounded by _________

There are _______ countries in the world.

5. Problem types:

In this type, a problem is stated which has to be solved. If may be a problem involving calculation e.g. The product of two numbers is 63, one of the numbers is 7. What is the other?

6. Classification/Arrangement Type:

Several concepts are presented. The student must arrange or classify them in a particular order or identify ideas that belong to the same group. Example:


In what order do the following human needs occur?

Safety, Social, Self-esteem, Self-actualization, Physiological.


Essay and Objective type of examination questions are the two most common categories of examination questions. There are other types of examination questions, but the school system majorly uses the two we explained in this article.

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