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Bad test questions

Posted

Seems like for every exam we take, there are usually a couple of questions that are thrown out, due to poor wording or misinformation. For the last test we took there were 6 out of 100 that are being thrown out (so far!!) This happens everytime. Is this normal? So frustrating, and really throws me off when I come across these crazy questions on the test.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

Seems like for every exam we take, there are usually a couple of questions that are thrown out, due to poor wording or misinformation. For the last test we took there were 6 out of 100 that are being thrown out (so far!!) This happens everytime. Is this normal? So frustrating, and really throws me off when I come across these crazy questions on the test.

IMO, it's normal. And you should consider it a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. At least your instructors are admitting that they worded something poorly or it was ambiguous, rather than steadfastly insisting on keeping the question in, even if 80% of the students got the answer incorrectly. It means they're willing to listen to the students and accept feedback, and use the feedback to make changes.

grinnurse, RN

Specializes in Med/Surge.

It's always been that way on our tests. Second semester on one 80 question test we had 16 thrown out. I don't know how tests are put together at most schools, but it has been my observation for the past 2 years that all the instructors get together to choose the questions and then they are supposedly "proof read". I would like to talk to the one doing the proof reading cause they obviously aren't cut out for that job!! :rotfl: What really ticks me off about some of the test questions is when you have learned a specific thing in lecture one semester and a test pops up on it at a later test and you answer the way you were taught and it's "wrong". We had this one question on smoking and d/c teaching that really got me hot. Do you tell the patient to quit or cut down to avoid further complications from heart disease. 95 % of the students chose stop and what was not the answer--cut down was and we showed the lecture notes to show what the rationale was and they wouldn't give it to us still :angryfire. Go figure :rolleyes:

manna, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

They occasionally throw out questions on our tests. Following each exam we take, a group of instructors gets together to review the exam. They look closely at any questions that a certain percentage of the class missed, and discuss a missed question with the instructor who wrote it. Ultimately, it's the question-writer's decision whether or not a question is thrown out... here lately, we've had perhaps one or two a test (if that many) tossed. Two semester ago when we began, they were throwing out multiple questions!

It's normal. Happens all the time for us. Sometimes I wish it happened more oftet, but our instructors don't always see it the way we do.

Megan

It's normal. Happens all the time for us. Sometimes I wish it happened more oftet, but our instructors don't always see it the way we do.

Megan

In my school, at lot of the tests are generated by the author/publisher of the text book. There are always stupid or ambiguous or just plain wrong questions. Getting those changed takes an act of God.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

IMO, it's normal. And you should consider it a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. At least your instructors are admitting that they worded something poorly or it was ambiguous, rather than steadfastly insisting on keeping the question in, even if 80% of the students got the answer incorrectly. It means they're willing to listen to the students and accept feedback, and use the feedback to make changes.

I agree with this completely. As someone who has written test questions and survey questions, I can tell you that it can be a lot more difficult to write a good question than it is to take the test. People write books about the subject, go to workshops, etc. and it is still difficult.

You think you have written a good question... you ask your friends, etc. to look it over and they agree with you. Then you try it out on a "real audience" and 20% of the people misinterpret it. So, back to the drawing board you go, refining it over and over again until the question functions well as discriminator of who really knows the material and who doesn't. That's why tests such as the NCLEX include several "test items" that don't count toward your score. Those questions are being tested with actual people taking the test to determine how well they function.

It's normal and healthy for the school to be constantly updating its tests. And in that process, they will inevitably have to throw out a few questions that aren't working well.

llg

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