3.2 Short Answer Type Test

The short answer item requires pupils to supply the appropriate word, number, or symbol to a question or incomplete statement. It can be used for measuring a variety of simple knowledge outcomes, but it is especially useful for measuring problem-solving ability in science and mathematics. The ease with which short-answer items can be constructed and their relative freedom from guessing favors their use. However, the areas in which they can be effectively used are restricted by the relatively by the relatively simple learning outcomes measured and by the fact that the scoring is contaminated spelling errors of varying degrees of magnitude. When short answer items are used, the question must be stated clearly brief and definite. Problems requiring only a number or a symbol for an answer are particularly adaptable to the short answer form.

It is stated that a short-answer type is between an essay type test and an objective test. Here we mention a few definitions given by experts to have a comprehensive view.


(i)Anthony J.Nitku (1998) in his book “Educational tests and Measurement” writes .”Short answer item require the examinee to respond to the to the item with a word, short phrase, number or a symbol”

(ii)Norman E. Gronlund (1985) in book “Measurement and evaluation in Teaching ” Writes”The Short answer item is supply test item that can be answered by a word, phrase, number or symbol”

(iii) William Wiersma and Stephen G. Jurs (1990) in their book “Educational Measurement and Testing” write Short answer item are considered objective items in that correct response can be secured objectively. That is preferably there is a single correct answer so that equally important scores would agree on the correctness of a response.
(iv)K.D. Hopins. J.C. Stanley and B.R. Hopkins (1990) in their book

“Educational and psychological measurement and Evaluation Write “The short-answer test is an objective test in which each item is in the form of a direct question, a stimulus word or phrases, a specific direction, a specific problem or an incomplete statement or question. The response must be supplied by examinee rather than merely identified from a list of a suggested answer supplied by the teacher”.

If we see all the above-mentioned definitions we find that short answer have some characteristics of objective test and some characteristics of essay tests.


1.It is a supply type test.

2.It is answered by a word, phrase, number or symbol.


It is in the form of question.

4. It stands between essay type and objective type test.

5. It is suitable to measure simple learning outcome like knowledge of terminology, facts, principles

and procedure.
Problem solving outcomes are also measured in Maths and Science by these tests.


1.What does a thermometer measure?(Temperature)

2. What is the symbol for oxygen?(0)

3.What is the square root of 64?

4.What is “range” in statistics?

(Range is the difference between the largest and smallest score.)


1. Easy to construct as it measure simple learning outcome.

2.Guessing is not possible as pupils supply the answer rather than selection.

3.Partial knowledge is not sufficient for answering correctly.

4. It is good to assess the lowest level of learning (knowledge).


1.It is not suitable for measuring complex learning outcomes.

2.There is difficulty of scoring when answers are given with varying degree of correctness.(e.g; where was Quaid born?)

Answer: i)Karach



3. Scoring is subjective as examiner cannot anticipate all the answers.

Suggestions for Constructing Short Answer Tests:

1.If the answer is to be expressed in numerical units, indicate the type of answer wanted e.g;what is temperature of the human body? (°C)

2. A direct question is more desirable than an incomplete statement.

3. Left the suitable space for answering the short answer item. Word the item so that the required answer is

4.both brief and specific.

5. Do not take statements directly from text books to use as a basis for short answer item. 6.Questions should not provide any clues.

7.In numerical question, answer should be a whole number.

8.A scoring key should be prepared contains all anticipated answers. so that it

9. Avoid indefinite questions.

10. If several correct answers are possible, accept each one as correct.

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