Item Writer Training

I recently took the item writer class the CDR offered in 2022. Kate from PSI services gave the presentation. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my notes so that you can avoid some common mistakes if you are creating questions to hand off to the item writer.

Example Question:

 Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and protects your cells against free radicals. Which of the following is highest in Vitamin C?

  1. Oranges
  2. Kiwi
  3. Red Pepper
  4. Broccoli
  • The primary purpose of test questions is to assess learning outcomes. When creating them, unnecessary information should be avoided. See the example above. The first part is correct but irrelevant to this question and should be avoided. We want to test competency with the question and the answer but should not make the question too easy.
  • The next object is to ensure the question has incorrect distractors that are plausible answers. In the example above, all items have vitamin C, so all are possible.
  • Avoid using “True or False” questions and questions with blanks in them. Do not say, “Which of the following is true?”
  • The questions should be at the appropriate cognitive level. For example, the above question is a recall question. It is an application of knowledge. If the audience has a higher mental level, then there could be a question on analysis that resolves a problem or scenario. Utilize both types of questions, if appropriate.
  • If you use a clue word in one option, you must choose the clue word in all possibilities.
  • Avoid “All, always, never, and only” in all test questions; Do not use all or none of the above.
  • If using “increase and decrease,” give two answers with “increase” and two with “decrease.”
  • Avoid jargon, plagiarism, incomplete statements, or quotes.
  • Use universally understood language.
  • Avoid regional concerns.
  • Use “the dietitian” instead of he, she, or they.
  • Describe realistic or practical situations.
  • Use four options only.
  • Make sure the information is current.
  • If you use a range in your answers, make sure that they are exclusive:

A)  1-2

B)  3-4

C)  5-6

D)  7-8


A)  1-2

B)  2-4

C)  5-6

D)  6-8


(Information obtained from the presentation by Kate Kahoa, M.Ed. at PSI services on 5/26/22)





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