Matching Questions

Matching questions consist of a column of key words presented on the left side of the page and a column of options placed on the right side of the page. Students are required to match the options associated with a given key word(s).


  • Simple to construct.
  • Short reading and response time, allowing more content to be included in a given set of matching questions.
  • Highly reliable exam scores.
  • Well-suited to measure associations between facts.
  • Reduces the effects of guessing.


  • Difficult to measure learning objectives requiring more than simple recall of information.
  • Difficult to construct due to the problem of selecting a common set of key words and options.
  • If options cannot be used more than once, the questions are not mutually exclusive; therefore, getting one answer incorrect automatically means a second question is incorrect.
  • Tips for writing matching questions
  • Provide more possible options than questions.
  • Use longer phrases as questions and shorter phrases as options.
  • Keep questions and options short and homogeneous.
  • Avoid verbal cues and specific determiners (e.g., the, a, an).
  • Number each question and use alphabetical letters for the options.  
  • Specify in the directions the basis for matching and whether or not responses can be used more than once.
  • Make all questions and all options the same type (e.g., a list of events to be matched with a list of dates).

Problems with the original question:

  • Neither the questions nor the options are homogeneous. The former call for answers that are both dates and names; the latter necessarily are a mixture of both.
  • There are an equal number of premises and alternatives.
  • The introductory statement fails to offer an adequate frame of reference for responding.