Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Use of “All of the Above”

Let’s start with an example. A review round of the assessment questions hosted on the LMS is going on.

Client: Kunal, tell me one thing…what does this option “All of the above” mean?
Kunal: Steve, we can use this option when all the options or answers are correct.
Client: Yes Kunal, I understand that. But what should I do when it is the first option is “All of the above!!!”

This happened to be a real-life scenario in one of the organizations I worked in previously.

So, why should we avoid the use of “All of the above” option in knowledge checks and assessment questions?

Let’s take another example.

Question: What is 5 + 5?
  • 10
  • 11
  • A duck
  • All of the above

Well, to start with, each option has 25% chances of being correct. But, a giveaway option like “a duck” definitely is not the correct answer. So, it automatically makes the option “All of the above” incorrect as well. This leaves two options, with each having 50% chance of being correct.

Isn’t that a bit too much to test the knowledge of the learners?

So, we should always avoid the use of the options such as “All of the above” and “None of the above”.

The big reasons for it:
  • Once hosted on the LMS, the options may be randomized. Makes you look like a fool if these options do not remain the last in the list J
  • If one of the options is a giveaway, it leaves the probability of the remaining options being correct…HIGH! That’s not how we want to test the learners, right?


  1. It'd be great if such kind of assessments have the try again option:-)

  2. None of the options should be a giveaway anyway. That's another rule for writing effective assessments. However, using "all/none of the above" still does not make sense because of the probability of knowing at least one correct/incorrect option still remains high.

  3. If try again option is there, then one should make sure that there are proper distractors.