Types of Exam Items

While there are many possible types of exam items, this resource will focus on those that fall into two main categories: selected response and constructed response

The type that you choose will depend on what you want your students to demonstrate and real-world constraints such as how much time students have to complete an exam. Click on an item type to learn more: 

Selected Response

Selected response items require students to choose a response from answers that are provided. There are three primary types, including:

  • multiple choice
  • true-false
  • matching

A benefit of these is that they are easy to score objectively. They are often used to test students’ ability to recall information, but can also be used to measure deeper learning. Check out Testing for Depth of Understanding for tips on how to use selected response items to measure more advanced levels of learning, including application and analysis.

Constructed Response

Constructed response items require students to generate brief responses to open-ended or specific questions. There are three primary types, including:

  • short-answer
  • fill-in
  • label diagram

 These can be used to examine various levels of learning and in some cases more than one answer may be correct.