A Comparison Between Multiple Choices and Short Answer Questions in Reading Comprehension Tests

A Comparison between Multiple Choices and Short Answer Questions in Reading Comprehension Tests
1. Introduction
    Reading is an important way for people to obtain information and communicate with each other. Reading is one of the most important sources of input in the language acquisition process and in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learning. Reading comprehension has long been the most important part of English test and usually occupies a large proportion in various tests. Reading assessments can be found in most large-scale tests both at home and abroad because of the significant role reading plays in the process of foreign language learning. Specifically speaking, the reading comprehension part always takes up a large proportion of the whole test. Thus, to some extent, scores that the test-takers receive in the reading comprehension part of an examination may play a decisive role on their performance in the whole test.
    Reading comprehension is a complicated task that receives much attention both in teaching and testing structure. In College Entrance Examination, reading comprehension accounts for about 40 marks out of the total marks of 150. With the complicated process of reading and its central role in English learning, whether various reading test formats can check out the students’ real reading ability is rather questionable. A study conducted by Andre (2006) indicated that different test formats result in various response processes in test takers and then lead to different performances. To put it simply, test takers were affected by the different item types in the study.
  In order to find out which test format is better for testing students’ reading ability, it is important to have some knowledge of what is reading comprehension. Reading is a receptive language process. It is a psycholinguistic process in that it starts with a linguistic surface representative encoded by a writer and ends with meaning which the reader constructs.There is thus...