General Assessment

See the guidelines below for information about creating comprehension questions. These guidelines are for formatting the stems (questions) and alternatives (multiple choice options) and apply to all target levels. 


  1. Number each stem
  2. Use language widely accessible to students at this level
  3. Avoid the use of colloquial language, slang, or words with more than one meaning
  4. Use clear simple sentences
  5. If using a negative in the stem, italicize the word for emphasis such as not or except
  6. Include as much information as possible in the stem as needed to avoid redundancy in the options
  7. End the stem with a question mark or leave a fill in the blank to complete the sentence


  1. Provide four options–one correct answer and three distractors
  2. Place options below the stem labeled as a) b) c) d)
  3. Avoid the use of negatives
  4. Avoid using specific determiners such as only or always
  5. Avoid using “all of the above” or “none of the above” as an option
  6. Use short simple sentences ending with a period OR short phrases without a period
  7. All options should be of a similar length
  8. Ensure options are parallel in grammatical structure
  9. Options that use and, but, or, etc. should all follow a similar pattern
  10. Place the correct answer equally in random order for each question
  11. Provide the correct answer to each question in the teacher’s note

*Some of this information is based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Reading and

This content is provided to you freely by Ensign College.

Access it online or download it at