Tests can be made more accessible for English Language Learners and students with special needs, say researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education.

They’ve created a checklist, the Test Accessibility and Modification Inventory, to help educators and test-designers evaluate whether a test is likely to trip up students who know the content but are struggling readers or are easily distracted.

The inventory penalizes tests with unnecessary diagrams, excessive answer choices, and answer choices that aren’t plausible. Educators might be surprised to learn that three choices are considered optimal for multiple choice questions.

Other sections of the inventory address readability of test questions, spacing and layout on the page, and fairness to students of different ethnicities. There’s also a checklist for assessing computer-based exams.

See EdWeek for an example of a question modified to meet the guidelines.