Got to say there have been times I wished multiple choice questions did not exist, but alas they are a part of educational life. As such, I believe no chemistry class or really any class is complete without some intentional multiple choice teaching and practice questions. Yes, yes, I know – more teaching to the test. Sadly, a little bit of this is required. If it you makes you feel any better, students need these skills to pass college tests as well as high school tests. I recommend you think of multiple choice questions as higher level thinking opportunities that can help prep your students not only for the present but also for the future (college).
I am sure you have heard many tips on teaching your students how to be good test takers. I have two ideas to add that I believe will help prepare your students.
Most students look at multiple choice questions and freak out or shut down because of the words. Students often feel that the questions are confusing, too wordy, or contain unknown vocabulary. Students may know the material but can not decipher the wording of the question to determine an answer. My recommendation is to teach students the underline-circle method. Students underline the given information, and circle what the question asks them to find. All questions…that is to say all chemistry questions…will always provide students with information! I recommend students UNDERLINE the facts they are GIVEN. For example, in the question – “How many moles are in 3.2 grams of NaCl?” – students would underline 3.2 grams of NaCl. This is the information that is given. Students then want to CIRCLE the information that is REQUESTED. In our example question, students would circle the word mole. This is a rather simple question, but this method will help students parse through those wordy questions.
Back in the day (which really wasn’t that long ago), when Texas had the End of Course exam for chemistry, this method really helped my students. I even had a student come back and tell me they were using this method in another class!.
Multiple Choice Questions for CLASSWORK/HW!
We would never dream of having our students calculate molar mass for the first time on a test. Instead, we will teach and have students practice this through worksheets and maybe even apply the knowledge in lab. Moral of the story? We should apply the same methodology to teaching multiple choice questions. We should teach and demonstrate the underline-circle method and how to process through higher level thinking skills with various questions. Then, we should assign multiple choice questions as daily work.
* Personally, my favorite way to assign multiple choice questions is through blackboard! I assign
the multiple choice questions and and allow students to redo the assignment up to three times
in blackboard (if desired/needed). This way there is less pressure and more opportunities to
practice and do well on the assignment.
* Another great way to incorporate multiple choice questions is through Kahoot! This fun
technology based game will keep students engaged!
* Warm-ups are another great way to practice multiple choice questions! When prepping students
for the chemistry EOC, my class did about 4-5 multiple choice questions as a warm-up every day
for multiple weeks.
Regardless of the method, find a way to incorporate some multiple choice questions into some of the daily life of your classrooms. Then when test time comes, your students will be prepared.
Happy Teaching :)
- Founder of Chemistry with Confidence