Creating Constructed Response Items

In this article we will look at the types of constructed response questions that you can utilze for your assessments, and the advantages and disadvantages for each question type.

Short-Answer Items


  • Short item questions are truly easy to construct
  • Require student to create a correct response
  • Can be scored relatively quickly
  • Reduce the possibility of simply “guessing”


  • Best suited to testing only factual knowledge
  • Must be carefully worded to avoid ambiguity
  • Difficult to score accurately (spelling, handwriting, grammar, alternatives, etc)

Some things to keep in mind when constructing short-answer items

  • Use direct questions over incomplete statements wherever possible
  • Structure the question/statement to elicit a brief, unique response
  • Place response space (or blanks) at the end for direct questions and in the margin for incomplete statements.
  • For incomplete statements, restrict the number of blanks to one (two max!!)
  • For incomplete statements make all response blanks equal in length
  • For questions requiring longer response, supply sufficient answer space at the end.

Extended-Response Items


  • Assess higher-order cognitive skills
  • Students are asked to think about and create complex responses


  • Can be time consuming for students to write
  • Can be time consuming for teachers to grade
  • Tend to promote subjective inaccuracies in scoring

Some things to remember when constructing extended response items.

  • Structure items so that the student’s task is explicitly explained and circumscribed
  • Specify point-value, acceptable length and recommended time allocation
  • Use more questions requiring shorter answers over few questions requiring longer answers
  • Do not use optional questions
  • Create a trial response to set criteria and standard (and assess the quality of the question)
  • Create a concise, skill-focused, rubric
    • limited, clearly defined, criteria
    • reflects required standard(s)
    • reflects teachable skills, knowledge, understanding


Related Links:

  1. Tips and Tutorials for how to use Moodle
  2. How should I structure an exam?
  3. How do I create good multiple choice questions?