Definition: Action Verb – A verb which should be included in all test questions informing the student of how to answer the question – each learning objective has appropriate actions verbs.
When writing test questions for formative and summative assessments, to make the student’s objective clear you will need to include a verb in the question which determines the action the student should take to complete the question – this will be your action verb.
Identify which of the following is a popular novel by Roald Dahl?
1) Moby Dick
2) The Twits
3) The Bell Jar
In the case of the above example the verb is identify. This needs to reflect what action the student needs to complete in the question.
It is often the case the action you wish the student to take cannot be asked directly in a multiple choice question. For example, you will not be able to ask the student to describe something directly; instead it would need to be incorporated into the question and answers.
Select the most appropriate description of Roald Dahl ‘The Twits’ plot summary
1) A novel in which the protagonist joins a whaling vessel and eventually fights a whale known as Moby Dick
2) A novel which follows the lives of two foul protagonists and their antics, eventually resulting in their sticky comeuppance
3) A novel which follows the life of a young girl, somewhat mirroring the lives of Sylvia Plath’s own journey.
You will have a freer reign of including action verbs in a less structured question type. For example, if you were to add an action verb in an essay type question, you would be able to ask the student an outright question without any answer constrictions. In this case, make sure to choose the required action verb carefully.