Writing Good Multiple Choice Questions

Writing good questions that get at the knowledge the students need can be a challenge. This is especially true of multiple-choice questions.

  • Where do you begin?
  • How do you know what makes a question good or bad?

In this presentation, Justin Kullgren, PharmD, breaks down the process and shares tools for writing and evaluating multiple choice questions. This presentation was originally written for the Integrated Pharmacotherapy sequence, but the information included is so broadly applicable that we decided to share it with everyone. Be on the lookout for more posts in the Writing Good Questions series over the summer.

A screenshot of the Question Writing Overview Presentation. This links to the actual presentation.



Our special thanks to Justin Kullgren, PharmD, for his hard work on this presentation. 

Best Practices for Using Top Hat in Team Taught Courses

Using Top Hat is a great strategy for student engagement. However, most of the support documentation out there is targeted at single-user or small team taught courses. We have discovered that there are some unique challenges to working with a large group of instructors. To help you navigate them a little more easily, we have begun compiling a list of best practices. Here are some of the things we have learned so far:

Course Coordinators

  1. Set up one Top Hat course for the whole team to present from. Each instructor can have their own folder, but the course needs to be shared in order for the students to participate in it, and for engagement points and grading.
  2. Sync the Top Hat course to Carmen. This allows students have access without a join code and you can pull grades from the course if you wish. Click here for directions.
  3. Add the other instructors on the team to the Top Hat course. We recommend that you add instructors on an as-needed basis. Instructors without a Top Hat account will need to sign up on their own or see an Instructional Designer for assistance before they can be added. To keep clutter down, don’t add instructors who will not use Top Hat, but do add GTAs to help with content creation. Click here for instructions on adding professors and GTAs.
  4. Talk with an Instructional Designer. We can help you navigate setup and syncing with Carmen, and give you ideas for use cases to pass along to your team. In addition, we are happy to offer training to your teaching team and GTAs.


  1. Set up your account early. If you plan to use Top Hat, and you do not have an account already, set it up early in the semester.
    • Instructors – If you are a first time Top Hat user, see this page for directions for creating a Top Hat account.
    • GTAs – If you had a Top Hat account as an OSU Student, see this page for instructions for creating a dual account.
    • Student View – Top Hat does not support a way to switch roles between student and professor. To get around this, instructors can create a dual account in order to see their materials from a student perspective. See this page to get instructions for creating a dual account.
  2. Create a Sandbox. A Sandbox course will allow you to play with Top Hat and not mess anything up in the main course. You can use it to try out new features or to see what would happen if you did something differently. To do this, simply create a course entitled [LastName] Sandbox and use the course code “PHR Sandbox.”
  3. Use your Sandbox to create your content. This is very important! If you get into the main course while someone else is presenting, you can disrupt their presentation. Create and edit in your sandbox, and when your materials are ready, copy them into the main course for presentation. Click here for instructions on copying content between courses.
  4. Talk with an Instructional Designer. Top Hat is a more than just a clicker for multiple choice answers. Find out if there is an application that may add value to your lessons. We can also help you with sign-up, setup and training.

More Resources

ODEE’s Top Hat Help Articles – https://resourcecenter.odee.osu.edu/help-articles/67/67

Top Hat’s Knowledge Base (Professor) – https://support.tophat.com/s/categoryhome/Professor

COP OEIS’ Resources and Publications – https://pharmacy.osu.edu/resources-and-publications

10 Top Hat Strategies for Active Learning

Top Hat is an online ed tech tool that provides for active learning beyond the multiple choice “clicker” question. Below, you’ll find 10 activities to implement using Top Hat — from taking attendance and posing basic multiple choice questions to creating metacognitive “wrappers” that help build engagement and foster learning.

1. Attendance

Top Hat can be used to take attendance. Simply click on the Attendance icon at the top of the presentation screen before beginning your presentation.

2. Summative Assessment

Top Hat can be used for graded activities, such as multiple-choice quizzes. We advise that Top Hat be reserved for low-stakes assessments.

3. Formative Assessment

Top Hat can be used to pose questions to students and collect their answers for the purpose of providing real-time information about student learning to both the instructor and the students. Students can use this feedback to monitor their own learning, and instructors can use it to change how they manage class “on the fly” in response to student learning needs. Some instructors assign participation grades to these kinds of formative assessments to encourage students to participate. Other instructors assign points for correct answers to encourage students to take these questions more seriously. Other instructors do a mix of both, assigning partial credit for wrong answers.

4. Homework Collection

Through the Review feature of Top Hat, students can record their answers to multiple-choice or free response homework questions and submit their answers via Top Hat outside of class. In addition, instructors can use the Pages feature of Top Hat to create high quality, multi-media content for review. Such content can be constructed with text, in-line questions, and videos all in one page.

5. Discussion Warm-Up

Posing a question, giving students time to think about it and record their answers via Top Hat, and then displaying the results can be an effective way to warm a class up for a class-wide discussion.This approach gives all students time to think about and commit to an answer, setting the stage for greater discussion participation.

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