Completion Test Items
The completion item requires the student to answer a question or to finish an incomplete statement by filling in a blank with the correct word or phrase. For example:
According to Freud, personality is made up of three major systems: the ___, the ___ and the ___.
Advantages & limitations
Completion items have several advantages. They:
- can provide a wide sampling of content.
- can efficiently measure lower levels of cognitive ability.
- can minimize guessing as compared to multiple-choice or true-false items.
- can usually provide an objective measure of student achievement or ability.
Completion items also have several limitations. They:
- are difficult to construct so that the desired response is clearly indicated.
- have difficulty measuring learning objectives requiring more than simple recall of information.
- can often include more irrelevant clues than do other item types.
- are more time-consuming to score when compared to multiple-choice or true-false items.
- are more difficult to score since more than one answer may have to be considered correct if the item was not properly prepared.
Suggestions for writing completion test items
- Omit only significant words from the statement.Undesirable: Every atom has a central (core) called a nucleus.
Desirable: Every atom has a central core called a(n) (nucleus) .
- Do not omit so many words from the statement that the intended meaning is lost. Undesirable: The were to Egypt as the were to Persia and as were to the early tribes of Israel.Desirable: The Pharaohs were to Egypt as the were to Persia and as were to the early tribes of Israel.
- Avoid grammatical or other clues to the correct response. Undesirable: Most of the United States’ libraries are organized according to the (Dewey) decimal system.Desirable: Which organizational system is used by most of the United States’ libraries? (Dewey decimal)
- Be sure there is only one correct response.Undesirable: Trees which shed their leaves annually are (seed-bearing, common).
Desirable: Trees which shed their leaves annually are called (deciduous) .
- Make the blanks of equal length. Undesirable: In Greek mythology, Vulcan was the son of (Jupiter) ___ and (Juno) .Desirable: In Greek mythology, Vulcan was the son of (Jupiter) and (Juno) .
- When possible, delete words at the end of the statement after the student has been presented with a clearly defined problem. Undesirable: (122.5) is the molecular weight of KClO3.Desirable: The molecular weight of KClO3 is (122.5) .
- Avoid lifting statements directly from the text, lecture, or other sources. Limit the required response to a single word or phrase.