I have a bit of a dilemma. I am designing a product that allows for authors to create tests through modular blocks, than publish those tests via ePub. The intent is to deliver the test to students/readers to take them and submit the answers for grading.

Problem is that executive team thinks there is a need to have two types of question formats.

  1. A flash card type question format where users can take the test one question at a time (similar to duolingo and most language learning apps).

  2. A scrolling format (similar to ACT and SAT tests on paper) where the questions are laid out (stacked) vertically, but the user won't be able to submit the questions until the very end of a page.

The issue is that these both function very differently, but they want them both to co-exist on the page. Authors can potentially create 50 - 100 questions and intermingle the formats. I am concerned that the user will not know the format has switched and not realize why one question is like a flash card format, but the other requires them to answer all before submitting.

I am attaching an image: You can see that the first question is the flash card format where users advance one question at a time. They would have to tap Check Answer Button and then it will show them the answer, with a Next Question Button. The questions following that are vertically stacked and have one submit button. You won't be able to submit the answer until all three are answered.



2 Answers 2


As a user having taken many tests online, I strongly urge against the flashcard method if the grades are important. I heavily prefer seeing all questions and submitting them all at once rather than piecemeal for two reasons:

  1. sometimes other questions trigger something in my memory and I want to go back and fix a different answer. This is impossible if you have already submitted other answers individually.

  2. I like to be able to check all of my answers at once before submitting. It is much easier to do this at a glance if you have all of the questions in one place.

  • Thanks, I completely agree with you on these points! Jan 13, 2017 at 21:08

Your worries are well-founded. In your place, I'd argue strongly against such mixing on cognitive grounds. The fundamental principles are Avoid Surprises and Avoid Confusion.

Like all creatures that have evolved a brain, we are pattern-matchers. We look for consistency, and when we don't find it, being able to determine why not can be life-saving. So whenever we encounter something anomalous we automatically try to figure out what's going on and why.

Not being able to do that --and test-takers won't be able to do that because there won't be a "why"-- will have consequences for the test-takers. None of those consequences will be desirable. At best, the test-takers will go away shaking their heads at the incompetence of the test-makers.

  • In this case, how would I go about communicating this to an already stubborn team. Their fallback seems to be that they want authors to have the modular ability to create whatever they want without a prescribed path. I argue that authors aren't the ones reading the test. We should set the authors up for success to author tests that are usable and friendly for students to take the test. Nov 14, 2016 at 13:54
  • I'm afraid I don't know a sure-fire way to do that. If the authors have training in test design they'll only use one type in any one test. But if they're untrained, using both forms will probably be just one of the mistakes they'll make. How do you plan to trigger format selection?
    – MMacD
    Nov 15, 2016 at 11:35

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