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In a multiple-choice question there is usually only one correct answer.

In other words, you make a single choice from a list of options.

However, 'multiple-choice' suggests that you should be choosing more than one option, so is 'multiple-choice question' a misleading term?

Would it be more appropriate to describe multiple-choice questions as multiple-option questions?

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Choice is not just the act of choosing or that which is chosen, it can also be that from which you choose:

4 : a number and variety to choose among - Merriem-Webster

1.2 A range of possibilities from which one or more may be chosen. - Oxford living dictionaries


Also, it's not necessary that MCQs have a single correct answer (though that's very common). MCQs with multiple correct answers are not unusual.

  • I think it is a confusing term because you could also describe a multiple-choice question as a single-choice question. Or is that not correct? – motrots Jul 24 '18 at 10:10
  • @motrots that depends on the kind of MCQ. As I said, MCQs with multiple correct answers are not unusual. That's why it's standard to have explanatory text (pick the most appropriate option, or pick all correct options, etc.). – muru Jul 24 '18 at 10:13
  • Yes, but I think it is odd that for that specific kind of MCQ that it can simultaneously be described as a multiple-choice question and a single-choice question: both of those descriptions accurately describe it. They seem contradictory. Thank you for your help and patience! – motrots Jul 24 '18 at 10:20
  • If you expect English to be logical, you will be disappointed. – GEdgar Jul 24 '18 at 11:52
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    For whatever it's worth, being clear in the distinction between a multiple choice question in which one option can be selected and a multiple choice question in which more than one option can be selected is why the latter is colloquially called a "multiple punch question" in data collection and analysis. Here is an example of it in use. stats.stackexchange.com/questions/12725/… – Val Jul 24 '18 at 14:33

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