Both objective and essay test items are good devices for measuring student achievement. For example, learning objectives requiring the student to demonstrate or to show, may be better measured by performance test items, whereas objectives requiring the student to explain or to describe may be better measured by essay test items.
However, as seen in the previous quiz answers, there are particular measurement situations where one item type is more appropriate than the other. Paterson, "Do New and Old Type Examinations Measure Different Mental Functions? The matching of learning objective expectations with certain item types can help you select an appropriate kind of test item for your classroom exam as well as provide a higher degree of test validity (i.e., testing what is supposed to be tested).
There are two general categories of test items: (1) objective items which require students to select the correct response from several alternatives or to supply a word or short phrase to answer a question or complete a statement; and (2) subjective or essay items which permit the student to organize and present an original answer.
Objective items include multiple-choice, true-false, matching and completion, while subjective items include short-answer essay, extended-response essay, problem solving and performance test items.
Students are asked to select the one alternative that best completes the statement or answers the question.
For example, Use the alternatives "none of the above" and "all of the above" sparingly.
Essay items are generally easier and less time consuming to construct than are most objective test items.
Technically correct and content appropriate multiple-choice and true-false test items require an extensive amount of time to write and revise.
constant use of essay tests may encourage the knowledgeable but poor writing student to improve his/her writing ability in order to improve performance.
Essays are more subjective in nature due to their susceptibility to scoring influences.