The Validity of Multiple Choice and Essay Composition Proficiency Assessment for English Language Learners

LI Terence

Centre for English Language Education, Asia University, Japan.


Keywords: Assessment, Compositions, English proficiency, Essay questions, Independent learning, Multiple choice questions.


Students take assessment methods designed to examine their command of the English language in all four skill domains – reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as outlined by individual states. There has been much debate on whether multiple choice questions or essay compositions are valid in assessing students' English language proficiency. This paper aims to determine whether multiple-choice tests or written compositions are more reliable in gauging students' English competence. The author underlines that multiple choice tests could be successfully employed to test grammar, listening or reading skills. This research incorporated a qualitative methodology by utilizing deductive content analysis. The results of this study demonstrate that using multiple-choice questions is valid because they help students develop abilities for independent learning and raise their level of English proficiency. The deductive approach began with developing a theory that multiple choice questions are the most valid method of assessing a learner's proficiency in the English language. The author then found relevant and credible articles that address the research question. A hypothesis was then developed that teachers who use multiple choice questions can assess learners' English language proficiency compared to those who use compositions. Conclusions about the validity of the multiple choice questions are drawn and future research directions are also proposed.