Usually in the most of the collages there are two types of written exams:

1) Multiple choices questions - you have just to mark the correct answer that exist already among the options.

2) Questions without choices (in my native language we call them "open questions") - you don't have any choice and therefore you have to write by yourself the whole answer without any clue.

What is the second type ('open questions' in my native language) actually called in English? Is it the same as my language - 'open questions'?

I checked the dictionary in my language and there's no reference to this term.

  • Short Answer Questions. Jan 19, 2017 at 9:41
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    Why is it call "short answer" when it could be an answer of page, two or three sometimes? (sometimes the questions ask you to describe the main types, and their classification and the function etc. etc.) Jan 19, 2017 at 10:15
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    In the meantime I found it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_(assessment)#Written_tests Jan 19, 2017 at 10:19
  • In which case, I would call them "essay questions." But points for having found the answer for which you had been looking on your own. Jan 19, 2017 at 10:24
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    I would call it a "written answer". Also the term "open ended (answer)" may be applicable.
    – AdrianHHH
    Jan 19, 2017 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


This kind of questions is indeed can be called "open questions" (British council) but they may also be called "open response" (Brigham Young University) or essay questions (University of Waterloo and Reading university) or essay test (University of illinois).

Essays Essay questions provide a complex prompt that requires written responses, which can vary in length from a couple of paragraphs to many pages. Like short answer questions, they provide students with an opportunity to explain their understanding and demonstrate creativity, but make it hard for students to arrive at an acceptable answer by bluffing. They can be constructed reasonably quickly and easily but marking these questions can be time-consuming and grader agreement can be difficult.

Essay questions differ from short answer questions in that the essay questions are less structured. This openness allows students to demonstrate that they can integrate the course material in creative ways. As a result, essays are a favoured approach to test higher levels of cognition including analysis, synthesis and evaluation. However, the requirement that the students provide most of the structure increases the amount of work required to respond effectively. Students often take longer to compose a five paragraph essay than they would take to compose five one paragraph answers to short answer questions. This increased workload limits the number of essay questions that can be posed on a single exam and thus can restrict the overall scope of an exam to a few topics or areas. To ensure that this doesn’t cause students to panic or blank out, consider giving the option of answering one of two or more questions. (University of Waterloo)

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