Assessing Distractors in Multiple-Choice Tests

8 Nov 2023  ·  Vatsal Raina, Adian Liusie, Mark Gales ·

Multiple-choice tests are a common approach for assessing candidates' comprehension skills. Standard multiple-choice reading comprehension exams require candidates to select the correct answer option from a discrete set based on a question in relation to a contextual passage. For appropriate assessment, the distractor answer options must by definition be incorrect but plausible and diverse. However, generating good quality distractors satisfying these criteria is a challenging task for content creators. We propose automated assessment metrics for the quality of distractors in multiple-choice reading comprehension tests. Specifically, we define quality in terms of the incorrectness, plausibility and diversity of the distractor options. We assess incorrectness using the classification ability of a binary multiple-choice reading comprehension system. Plausibility is assessed by considering the distractor confidence - the probability mass associated with the distractor options for a standard multi-class multiple-choice reading comprehension system. Diversity is assessed by pairwise comparison of an embedding-based equivalence metric between the distractors of a question. To further validate the plausibility metric we compare against candidate distributions over multiple-choice questions and agreement with a ChatGPT model's interpretation of distractor plausibility and diversity.

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