Sunday, April 19, 2009


In Turkey children take multiple choice tests and exams on a regular basis.Multiple choice tests and examinations can produce many severe problems for students with dyslexia.

They find it very difficult to transfer information from one source to another ie from the exam or test paper to a computer answer sheet.

Dr John Rack, head of psychology at Dyslexia Action, in an article for the BBC said that mutiple choice questions were hard for dyslexic students because they have to deal with large amount of information, all at once. "Dyslexics often have problems with their working memory, which is the space where we hold on to information. If there are too many options, it is hard to keep track of them and by the last option, they have forgotten the first."

Multiple choice papers involve lots of horizontal and vertical tracking i.e (reading from left to right and up and down) which means that dyslexic students can easily lose their place on the question paper and / or read inaccurately .

Multiple choice questions require a lot of concentration so dyslexic students can tire easily and get under-stress.

Each multiple- choice question typically involves more reading than a true-false, short answer or completion question ,therefore putting on more strain on a dyslexic pupil. Dyslexic students read slower and with more difficulty and they may get lower scores because they do not finish, rather than because they did not know the answers !!


It would be better if students were allowed to tick or circle answers on the question paper rather than darkening circles on an separate computer answer sheet as often dyslexic students can make errors when tranferring information. Ask your child’s teacher if they will allow them to circle answers on the question sheet.

If a computer answer sheet has to be used then see if the teacher will allow the paper to be photocopied and enlarged so it can be read more easily.

Students should be allowed to do workings out on the test paper or should be given some scrap paper for this purpose.

General advice

Encourage your child to practice multiple-choice questions.

Students should pace properly throughout the test. On average, they will have just over one minute per question !

If they are struggling with a question it is best to leave that question and to go onto the next question.If they have some time left at the end they can go back to any questions they were stuck with.

They will want to try to keep some time to review their answers – if possible !!

In addition they will need to allow some time to transfer their answers to the computer answer sheet, (if applicable). Remember extra time is not allowed for transferring answers to a computer answer sheet !.

For matching questions, suggest to your child that he read all of the choices, match the items that he is certain of , cross off the choices that he has used and then look at the remaining items. Some children have difficulty with looking at two lists and keeping track of these answers that they have already chosen. Others, may have trouble remembering the specific vocabulary or connections between items.

Remind your child that multiple-choice questions often have a correct answer, an answer that is obviously wrong and then one or two choices that are close to the right answer. They will need to read each choice carefully and try to eliminate as many of the answers as possible before choosing one.

Multiple choice is the not necessarily the worst exam format !! Essay writing can be very difficult if your child is a slow writer and has difficulty producing fluent writing with the correct spelling, punctuation ,sequencing etc ..

Basically, any test or exam will put a strain on a dyslexic pupil as they generally have poor reading and writing skills, plus they have to exert more energy to do the same tasks as other children and they will get tired more quickly.They also may have memory and concentration problems which will impeed their performance. At the very least teachers should allow them EXTRA TIME to complete tests and examinations !!!! Generally however extra time is not given in Turkey !!

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