Writing Better True/False Questions

As I noted in my blog post from July 7 there is nothing inherently invalid in True/False questions but with a 50% correct guessing rate they should be used sparingly. However, if you do want to use them here is a better way: convert them to True/False/Because questions.  In a True/False/Because question there may be multiple True choices and multiple False choices. Here’s an example:

True or False: Only one New York City borough is attached to the mainland of the United States.

     A. True, because Brooklyn is attached to Queens

     B. True, because Staten Island is not really an island

     C. True, because the Bronx is attached to Westchester

     D. False, because no part of New York City is attached to the mainland

     E. False, because two of New York’s boroughs are attached to the mainland

For those of you not from this part of the world, the correct answer is C.

By the way, Brooklyn is attached to Queens but neither is attached to the mainland.

It is also possible to have just one False choice, that is just “False” without the “because” clause. For example:

True or False: Two New York City boroughs are attached to the mainland.

     A. True, because Brooklyn and Queens are attached to the mainland

     B. True, because the Bronx and Staten Island are attached to the mainland

     C. True, because Queens and Manhattan are attached to the mainland

     D. False

The correct answer is D.

And, of course, you can also create questions with one “True” and multiple “False, because” choices.

As you can see from these examples, adding a “because” clause makes the traditional True/False question much more challenging and, in effect, gives you another question type for your exams.

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