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Essay Type Questions Vs. Multiple Choice Questions


First of all, consider all situations of asking questions, whether in class rooms or chatting with friends, let’s ask questions to our selves “why are we asking questions?” The best and simple answer will be to get some kind of information, but what is the best way to get information? This is the time when a professor uses either essay type questions or multiple choice questions, regardless of some exceptional case like true or false and matching. In my opinion, essay type questions can give us more accurate, detailed and understandable information rather than multiple choice questions.

In the New York Times “Rooms of Debate”, Sandra Stotsky says,While the number of students ‘passing’ has risen, nothing is happening at the level that should indicate academic success.” The main idea behind this quote is even though quantity is better than past, quality is not good. Basically, students are increasing their test scores, which are based on multiple choice questions, but the result in the academic goal is not so good. The problem is multiple test questions cannot test what a student understood and how that applies in the real world. Many a time, for example, when a student is confused with a multiple choice question and has no idea about the answer, he or she just pick any one choice and may or may not get the right answer. In this case, if a student gets right answer, we think that a student is improving, but if a student gets wrong answer, we will directly say the result is not good. The ultimate result, whether the answer is right or wrong, is student has no idea or information about that particular topic or question.

Now, on the other hand, if we consider the same situation but ask as essay type question then a student will be able to explain or write whatever he knows about that topic and express his or her views without any hesitation. In the result, a professor will be able to know what was the problem with that particular student, whether he or she understood wrong or confused with some other concept or didn’t get the clear idea about the topic or question. In this case, at least we will know what was wrong with students, instead of just saying the student is not doing well. Of course, all professors cannot go to each student and solve their problem. But there is a key role of parents in the student’s education. So parents must keep track of what their child is doing, and try to help a student. If we have any exceptional case, than a student should be able to recognize and understand his or her mistakes by solving them.

Many of us think that the multiple choice questions is the best type, because it saves time, paper, and most importantly they are easier than essay type questions. Moreover, most of teachers don’t like to read and check each statement of a student. A professor keeps multiple choices questions because the result comes out from the machine and makes their work easier. We agree with all of these things and we say multiple choices question is and must be the best type of questions. But after doing all that, if the final result of a student is not good, as Stotsky said, then we must believe that we should come up with some other way, which can make this system better and more accurate.

So the other best way is essay type questions, where a student will be able to express his/her ideas and point of view about a topic or a question. Even though they are hard, the result is good at the end of the day. I know all students may not agree with this as we don’t want to face difficulties, but by doing this we will be one step ahead than today. When we go to gym and say, “the more you lift the more you get”, in the same way think about this. The more difficulty we face the better result we get.

Lastly, let me exemplify you by my own real life experience. When I studied in India, I was above average student, but in my senior year of high school in the United States, I was very good. But I think that the knowledge I got over here has less value as compared to the knowledge I earned in India. The reason behind this is in India, I had essay type questions. And in the US we have multiple choice questions. So this is nothing but the change in the system of asking questions.

Image: photostock / Prestidigitatorial.net

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