II. Test Construction for Automated Test Scoring

General Guidelines

When constructing your test, follow these guidelines:

  • Maximum number of True/False questions is 150.
  • Maximum number of 5-choice questions is 150.
  • Maximum number of 10-choice questions is 50.
  • Maximum total number of questions per test is 150.

Special Situations

  • It is recommended that all True/False questions precede 5-choice questions and that all 5-choice questions precede 10-choice questions. If True/False questions are intermixed with 5-choice questions, then the scanner may count any stray marks in answers C, D, or E as incorrect answers (versus no answer).
  • When using 10-choice questions on a test, all 100 True/False and/or 5-choice questions do not have to be used.
  • To score several forms of one test, a scramble (multiple form) is used. Only the same type of questions may be scrambled together. Three scrambles can be used in addition to the key. (See Scrambles below for additional information.)
  • Valid penalty fractions are: 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7, 1/8, and 1/9. (See Penalty Fractions below for additional information.)


Up to four forms of one test can be scored simultaneously by using a scramble. Each scramble is a correspondence table between a master test key and another form of the test.

If using a scramble and test consists of 10-choice questions, the 10-choice questions must be scrambled among themselves. The same is true for True/False and 5-choice questions. The 10-choice questions also must be the last questions on all forms of the test.

If three forms of the test are needed, you must submit two scrambles; if four forms are needed, you must submit three scrambles. Four forms of a test is the maximum possible, and the original test key (on a regular test answer sheet) is always Form 1.

When multiple forms are used, each student must have a form number entered on the answer sheet and this number must be marked in the indicated space.

If the student does not indicate a form number, the machine will not read the answer sheet and the requestor will have to hand-score (results of this answer sheet will not be included in the test output).

If a student indicates a form number which does not exist, the computer assigns the highest possible form number. For example, if a student marks form number 3 when only 2 forms were given, the computer assigns the form number 2.

If a student marks a valid but incorrect form number, the test will be scored erroneously.

An error in marking either a test key or a scramble form results in totally erroneous scores. For this reason, if you have any questions regarding the marking of these forms you are encouraged to call or email Test Scoring, testscoring@MiamiOH.edu, at 513 529–8378 (TEST).

Penalty Fractions

Penalty fractions are used to discourage guessing. Students should be informed when penalty fractions are being used prior to the test.

If no penalty fraction is used, the standard method is to report the total number of correct responses as the test score. A penalty fraction allows the instructor to specify that a fraction (1 to 1/9) of the number of wrong responses be subtracted from the number of correct responses, to arrive at the test score. One penalty fraction may be specified for each of the three question types (True/False, 5-choice, and 10-choice). An unanswered question will not be counted in a penalty fraction.

Fractions are lost in the computation. Test scores will always be rounded to the nearest integer.

Note: 5/2 + 5/2 = 4 but 6/2 + 4/2 = 5. The two expressions are not equal. Fractions are lost in the computation of a subsection score.

The Answer Sheet and Test Key

There is only one type of answer sheet available to the test scoring user. The red/white form labeled TESTING FORM MM11380-5: 18 must be used for all tests to be processed through the optical scanner.

  • To order scantron test sheets, please contact the Miami University Bookstore at 513 529-2600 or email supplysales@MiamiOH.edu. Please provide an Index code and a delivery location, and they will be delivered to you, or they can be picked up in Shriver Center Bookstore.

Test key

Use form MM11380-5: 18 to provide the correct answers for the key also.

Write the following in the appropriate space on the answer sheet:

Above the name area, write “Test Key

Name: Last, First

UniqueID: Enter 00000000 and darken the corresponding circles. This number identifies the test key.

Course name


Instructor name

Preparations for Administering the Test

* Please read this section carefully before giving a test *

  • When response positions are marked, the mark should fill in the circle completely.
  • Marks on the answer sheet must be dark enough for positive machine reading, yet must erase easily and completely. For these reasons, a number 2 pencil or blue/black pen must be used. Erasures should always be made carefully and completely. Any incomplete erasure could cause the machine to pick up a double mark, which would result in the machine recording no response for the question.
  • Please caution students not to make any marks outside the circles, other than the student information at the top of the form. For example, if a question is deleted, the student should not draw a line through the question on the answer sheet. Extraneous marks will result in the answer sheet having to be hand scored by the requestor as well as cause delays in the processing of the other tests.
  • Please caution students not to use pens with ink that soaks through the paper.
  • Please keep in mind that the optical scanner reads both sides of the answer sheet at once by reading through the sheet.

Guidelines for administering the test

  • It is generally simplest to include an answer sheet with each test and pass both out to the students.
  • Do not staple answer sheets. Answer sheets that have been stapled cannot be processed.
  • Emphasize to your students that stray marks on either side of the answer sheet are to be erased before the paper is returned to you.
  • See Appendix A: Test Scoring Reminders for additional tips and information about common problems.
  • See Test Scoring Overview for a blank Test Scoring Request form (double-sided form) and Scramble forms that can be photocopied.

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