Investigating the Value of Different Kinds of Stems in Multiple Choice Tests: Interruptive Vs. Cumulative

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 English dept.Farhangian University

2 ELT dept.Farhangiayan University


The statement stated in a multiple-choice question can be developed regarding two types of sentences: Interruptive (periodic) and cumulative (or loose). This study deals with different kinds of stems in designing multiple-choice (MC) items. To fill the existing gap in the literature, two groups of teacher students passing general English courses at Farhangian University were selected based on Cambridge Placement Test. The design of this study was a comparison group design. To verify the effectiveness of the stems, i.e., interruptive and cumulative stems, two types of tests based on the book entitled Thoughts and Notions 2, which was taught in General English classes, similar in content, but different in their stems, were designed. Each test contained 40 items, 25 vocabulary items, and 15 items of reading comprehension. The first group of students was given the test designed using only interruptive sentences as stems. The second group participated in the test, being prepared using only cumulative sentences as stems. After the data analysis via an independent t-test, it became apparent that the first group outperformed the second. Therefore, it was concluded that interruptive sentences as a stem in multiple-choice tests were more reliable and valid than cumulative ones. One of the study implications is that the interruptive stems can be used to assist policymakers and material designers, and language teachers to be considered for future decision making, and designing materials.