Three Options Are Optimal for Multiple‐Choice Items: A Meta‐Analysis of 80 Years of Research

  title={Three Options Are Optimal for Multiple‐Choice Items: A Meta‐Analysis of 80 Years of Research},
  author={Michael C. Rodriguez},
  journal={Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice},
Multiple-choice items are a mainstay of achievement testing. The need to adequately cover the content domain to certify achievement proficiency by producing meaningful precise scores requires many high-quality items. More 3-option items can be administered than 4- or 5-option items per testing time while improving content coverage, without detrimental effects on psychometric quality of test scores. Researchers have endorsed 3-option items for over 80 years with empirical evidence—the results of… 
A, B, or C? A Quasi-experimental Multi-site Study Investigating Three Option Multiple Choice Questions
Data analysis revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in the item discrimination, difficulty or mean examination scores when MCQs were administered with three versus four option answer choices.
The optimal number of options for multiple-choice questions on high-stakes tests: application of a revised index for detecting nonfunctional distractors
The primary purpose of the present study was to evaluate an index of nonfunctional that is sensitive to item difficulty, and results were consistent with previous research indicating that most MCQs had one or two functional distractors.
Empirical Option Weights for Multiple-Choice Items : Interactions with Item Properties and Testing Design
In scoring of a multiple-choice test, the number of correct answers does not use all information available from item responses. Scoring such tests by applying empirically determined weights to the
The Use of Three-Option Multiple Choice Items for Classroom Assessment
Although multiple-choice items (MCIs) are widely used for classroom assessment, designing MCIs with sufficient number of plausible distracters is very challenging for teachers. In this regard,
The present study examined the effectiveness of ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) as a test alternative in multiplechoice items.It intended to estimate item fit, item difficulty, itemdiscrimination, guess
Modified Multiple-Choice Items for Alternate Assessments: Reliability, Difficulty, and Differential Boost
Federal policy on alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAS) inspired this research. Specifically, an experimental study was conducted to determine whether tests
Reducing the number of options on multiple‐choice questions: response time, psychometrics and standard setting
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of reducing four‐ and five‐option MCQs to three‐optionMCQs on response times, psychometric characteristics, and absolute standard setting judgements in a pharmacology examination administered to health professions students.
Item statistics derived from three-option versions of multiple-choice questions are usually as robust as four- or five-option versions: implications for exam design.
For these testing conditions, there appears to be little advantage in providing more than three options per multiple-choice question, and there are disadvantages, such as needing more time for an exam.


What's Wrong with Three-Option Multiple Choice Items?
Despite evidence supporting 3-option items, text authors and practitioners continue to advocate the use of four or five options. We designed an experiment to test further the efficacy of 3-option
Estimating the Optimum Number of Options Per Item Using an Incremental Option Paradigm
Previous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of using three-option multiple-choice items. In these studies three- and four-option items were constructed from preexisting item analysis data
How Many Options is Enough for a Multiple-Choice Test Item?
Textbook writers often recommend four or five options per multiple-choice item, and most, if not all, testing programs in the United States also employ four or five options. Recent reviews of
Use of an Inclusive Option and the Optimal Number of Options for Multiple-Choice Items
This study examined the validity of two item-writing rules in the design of test items: (a) the desirable number of options for a multiple-choice test item and (b) use of the inclusive none of these
Traditionally, multiple choice tests have included four or five alternatives. Data from public sector employment tests are presented that indicate that tests composed of multiple choice items
An Empirical Comparison of Three-and Four-Choice Items and Tests: Susceptibility to Testwiseness and Internal Consistency Reliability
Theoretical and test simulation work reveals that under the knowledge-or-randomguessing assumption, three-option item tests are at least as good as four-option item tests in terms of item
The Optimal Number of Alternatives in Multiple-Choice Achievement Tests: Some Empirical Evidence for a Mathematical Proof
TVERSKY (1964) has presented mathematical proof that given a fixed number of alternatives on a multiple-choice type test, the use of three alternatives at each choice point will maximize the
A Comparison of Two, Three and Four-Choice Item Tests Given a Fixed Total Number of Choices
While measurement textbooks typically recommend the use of four or five alternatives with multiple-choice test items theoretical work by Tversky (1964) and some empirical studies indicate that
More Evidence in Favor of Three-Option Multiple-Choice Tests
Students from two consecutive semesters were given multiple-choice tests over five units of an undergraduate course in psychology. During the first semester, students were given five 50-question
Three-Choice Versus Four-Choice Items: Implications for Reliability and Validity Of Objective Achievement Tests1
IN measuring psychology students’ knowledge of empirical generalizations, Costin (1970) found that mean discrimination indices and estimates of homogeneity mere slightly higher for t.hreechoice items