The performance effects of headings within multiple-choice tests

Henryk R. Marcinkiewicz, Roy B. Clariana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background. It has been suggested that headings within multiple-choice tests positively affect test performance; however, there is little research to date to either support or reject this hypothesis. Aims. Do headings within multiple-choice tests facilitate test performance? Sample. The available sample for this study included employees of a large manufacturing plant in the western part of the United States (N=143). Participants ranged in age from 26 to 64 years old; the median age was 44 years old. Method. The experimental group received a multiple-choice recertification test with headings included; the control group received the same test without headings. The data were analysed by analysis of covariance. Results. A significant difference was obtained for the treatment main effect, F(1,140)=4.33 (p<.04), with a calculated effect size for headings over no headings of es=0.33. Post hoc analysis of item difficulty data suggests that headings may have the greatest effect on less difficult test items and have little effect on difficult test items. Conclusions. The findings of the present study indicate that headings within multiple-choice tests positively affect test performance. Perhaps more importantly, the findings indicate that headings may differentially impact test items of differing difficulty. Further research is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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