Friday, 22 May 2009

Assertion and Reason multiple-choice testing

By Michelle Rowland, Associate Trainer for PRINCE2® and MSP™

“Assertion and Reason” (AR) multiple-choice questions are something people tend to struggle with when taking exams. In order to train delegates on this I do an exercise where they learn to construct an AR structure in pairs, and then we discuss the question, its construction and whether they succeeded in creating it. This is an outline of what I do – and this might help you understand AR questions better!

First, it is important to understand the following about ASSERTION:

1. It is a stand-alone statement
2. It must be scenario-related

Then you need to understand the following about REASON:

1. It is a standalone statement
2. It can be either MSP™ or PRINCE2® speak, or scenario-related
3. It must relate in some way to the assertion – e.g. if it refers to benefits in the assertion, it must refer to benefits (or a synonym) in the reason

A few important pieces of advice on how to answer AR style questions:

1. Answer only the assertions first
2. Answer the reasons independently of the assertions
3. For the True/True questions ask yourself “why do I think the assertion is true?” If it matches the reason, this is definitely an assertion.
4. If it doesn’t go onto the next step “putting the cart before the horse”, where you say “As a result of , is true” – this works really well as the brain is focussing more on the first half (R) than the second half (A), and it’s helpful to better test the connection.

A useful technique is to practice AR questions in pairs.

1. Research and discuss a syllabus area of your choice
2. Construct a few AR-style questions on that syllabus area
3. Base it on a case study
4. Post these AR questions on the wall, or flipcharts, and get other people attempt to answer them
5. The author of the question you will need to justify the answer.

This prompts two very interesting debates:

1. Around the syllabus topic – was it interpreted correctly?
2. Around AR questions – were they well constructed?

This seems to work really well with my delegates – have these tips been relevant to you?

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