Free response is a type of question used in tests in education, workplace, and government. Most free response questions ask or require the test-taker to state a belief, opinion, or write a short essay and support it with facts, examples, or other evidence. However, few tests solely rely on these types of problems, and tend to work in conjunction with other types, such as multiple choice. Free response questions generally test more than straight knowledge and ask for a "big picture" type of response (see example). Also, they usually allow the taker to choose an area in which they are familiar.
Free-response items are distinct from fixed-response items in that examiners must supply a full and independent response. There are no answer options from which to choose. Free-response items are typically discouraged from examinations because of the difficulty, bias, and time effort required in grading them. However, some general guidelines for developing these questions include the following:
The shorter the answer required for a given essay item, generally the better. More objectives can be tested in the same period of time, and factors such as verbal fluency, spelling, etc., have less of an opportunity to influence the grader. 1)Help the examiners focus their answers by giving them a starting sentence for their essay. 2) Make sure questions are sharply focused on a single issue. Do not give either the examiner or the grader too much freedom in determining what the answer should be.
Supporters argue that this type of question on tests is that it gives a better indication of the competence and intelligence of the test taker than other more standardized responses, which are claimed to often only measure test-taking ability. However, critics charge that the quality of a free response answer is often determined more by ability with the language in which it is given than competence or intelligence.
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... of two sections comprising 80 multiple-choice questions and 3 essay responses ... Section II, the written response portion, is to be completed in 130 minutes (including the mandated 15 minute reading period) and includes three essays (two of them thematic Free Response Questions (FRQs ... is provided a mandated 15-minute reading period prior to beginning the response ...
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