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Item Writing Guidelines for Constructed Response

(W. James Popham Test Better Teach Better 2003)

Short Answer Items

Choose direct questions over incomplete statements. Structure an item so that it seeks a brief , unique response Place response blanks at the end of incomplete statements or, for direct questions, in the margins. For incomplete statements, restrict the number of blanks to one or two. Make all response blanks equal in length. Supply sufficient answer space.

Essay Items

Structure items so that the student's task is explicitly circumscribed For each question, specify the point value, an acceptable response length, and a recommended time allocation. Employ more questions requiring short answers rather than fewer questions requiring long answers. Don't employ optional questions. Gauge a question's quality by creating a trial response to the item.

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