Many high school students and graduates criticize the means of estimating their academic success. Debates become increasingly heated when it comes to standardized testing. Multiple choice tests are time and resource efficient and allow to test a broad range of student’s abilities. However, not all students are enthusiastic about tests. Some of them find it easier to express their thoughts in writing rather than fill in the answer sheet. And educators cannot find a consensus as well – both methods have their advantages, but obviously “one size” cannot possibly fit all.
Essay exams allow students to express ideas in their own way. Test-takers do not choose answers but produce them which can give a realistic picture about whether a student has got a clue on the given topic. Essays are practicable when there is a limited range of topics and a small group of test-takers. In other settings, writing essays will not reflect actual knowledge of students. Besides, essays are time and labor consuming.
Multiple choice tests allow measuring a large amount of information for a short time. There are fewer possibilities for cheating but more opportunities for guessing correct answers. In general, multiple choice questions are difficult to write well; students frequently get distracted and confused during testing, besides, their attention wanders and they fail to fill in the answer sheet correctly.
It goes without saying that some students are better at multiple choice tests while the others like writing essays. To take advantages from each of these methods, teachers normally combine testing with essay writing.