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Assessment Of Distracters In Multiple-Choice Tests


avatar Maryam Sadat Kaveh Tabatabaee 1 , * , avatar Akbar Derakhshan 2

1 Faculty Member of Nursing-Midwifery School, Mashad University of Medical Sciences.

2 Director of Education Development Center, Mashad Universtty of Medical Sciences.

How to Cite: Kaveh Tabatabaee M S, Derakhshan A. Assessment Of Distracters In Multiple-Choice Tests. J Med Edu. 2002;2(1):e104980.
doi: 10.22037/jme.v2i1.891.


Journal of Medical Education: 2 (1); e104980
Published Online: April 05, 2009
Article Type: Research Article
Received: April 04, 2009
Accepted: April 05, 2009


Background The aim of using distracters in multiple-choice questions (MCQs) is to distract those who don't know the correct answer of the question. The MCQs must be designed in a way that the students who have  reached  the  pre-determined  educational  objectives,  have a  better chance  in finding  the  correc1 answer than those who have not. Therefore, a question has an appropriate efficacy when more /ow-grade students are attracted to the distracters than high-grade students.Purpose  Considering  the  important  role  of  distracters  in differentiating  between low  and  high-grade students, this research studies the distracters in the multiple-choice tests (MCTs) given in Mashad Medical School in the first semester of 1001-2002.Method  In this descriptive study,  the data of 21 MCTs performed in one semester  were collected  and recorded  by  Optical  Mark  Reader  (OMR).  From 128-1 questions,  6-12  MCQ ques1io11s  were sampled randomly, and the numbers of low and high-grade students choosing the distracters were compared and analyzed using SPSS software.Results The efficacy of 45.9% of distracters was ''relatively weak" to "extremely weak",  with "relatively weak", "weak", "very weak"  and  "extremely  weak"  distractors  having a  prevalence of  11.4%, 10%, 15.1% and 9.4% respectively. Extremely weak distracters were those that had a negative impact. Which means the high-grade students were more attracted than the low-grades. Of the MCQs. -12.7% had one. and one third of the questions had two weak distracters. Among all 6- questions. only 15.1% had three good distracters.Conclusion Our study showed that more than half of he distracters had a weak quality. So we suggested that before performing a test, the experts ' opinion about the designed questions should be obtained and considered to minimize the technical problems of the questions. Keywords  multiple-choice test, distracter.


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© 2002, Journal of Medical Education. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.