a.) Standardized Testing b.) Multiple Choice c.) Kahoot! d.) All of the above

For three consecutive years of my career I taught grade 6, which is one of three grades in which students in Ontario write the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) standardized exam. My students had had some experience with EQAO when they wrote it in grade 3, and they would write it again one last time during their grade 9 year.

The exam contains questions related to Math and Literacy. Many of the questions integrate content from the Science and Social Studies curriculum. The format of the exam varies from short answer response questions, writing prompts and everybody's favourite... multiple choice!

Why do most students look forward to the multiple questions the most? Is it because the answer is (somewhere) there in front of you? Is it because they are relatively quick to answer? Or perhaps, it is the game-like nature of multiple choice questions? Regardless of the appeal, year after year my students eagerly looked forward to the multiple choice section of the exam while dreading anything resembling a long answer format.

Engagement = check
Achievement = not so fast...

Though the multiple choice format seemed most preferable to students, it was not always here that students succeeded best. If fact, especially with the Literacy portion of the exam, it was often the opposite.

When this first became apparent to me, I began embedding multiple choice answering strategies into my regular programming. If only I had known about Kahoot! back then.

Kahoot! is a free game-based classroom response system that is designed around a multiple choice (or true/false) format.

There's a lot of flexibility within this robust system. Facilitators can create their own quizzes or choose from numerous quizzes already made available from other users. These existing quizzes can be duplicated and modified. When in use with an audience, that master quiz is projected (along with excellent game show music!) The audience participates in the quiz by selecting an answer on a hand held device. The interface is simple and intuitive making Kahoot! an accessible option for most grades and students.

Sound interesting? Set up an account at - tutorials, success stories and more can be found on the Kahoot! blog.

This post isn't so much about promoting this product, though I do love it. It's more about how we assist our students in developing skills and strategies for answering multiple choice questions. Armed with such skills, students will likely demonstrate greater academic success with standardized testing.

Much like problem solving in math, students benefit greatly from developing and using a strategy for approaching multiple choice questions. Through much practice, review and deconstruction our class co-created criteria for effectively answering multiple choice questions:
  • cover the question and try to answer it without first looking at any of the options
  • when applicable, identify and revisit the part of the text/resource related to the question
  • eliminate the obvious incorrect options
  • choose the best fit answer from the remaining options
  • never leave a question unanswered

Often multiple choice questions require an inference, interpretation or other form of higher order thinking to solve. These questions serve as excellent jump off points for teaching higher order thinking strategies. Solving a multiple choice problem can be compared to decoding a puzzle, and accordingly promotes critical thinking from students. Whether or not your class will be writing a standardized test in the near future, there are some worthwhile benefits to incorporating multiple choice questions into your regular programming. Using an application such as Kahoot! to greatly increase student engagement makes doing so that much easier!

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