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MarylandFine Arts Education Instructional Tool Kit
All Fine Arts Content Areas Dance Music Theatre Visual Arts
Maryland Fine Arts Education
Developing Fine Arts Assessments
Integrating Fine Arts Across the Curriculum
Assessment Outcomes and Implications

Brief Constructed Response Item Formats and Examples
Fill in the blank  Short answer  Label a diagram
Visual representation  Show your work

Fill in the Blank

"Fill in the blank" items require that students respond to a question or complete a statement by supplying a word, phrase, sentence, or number.    Incomplete statements may require a very brief response or a response of one or more sentences or phrases.


  • May be used to assess higher level thinking as well as lower level thinking
  • Requires creation (rather than merely recognition) of correct response
  • Often allows for simple scoring with answer keys or sets of answer cues given the limited scope of ideas required to complete these items


  • The required response is brief and does not provide the opportunity to provide evidence of the application of content or concepts
  • Except for instances in which letter or number recognition technology can be implemented, responses to this type of item require hand-scoring


  • Ensure that range of anticipated responses is open-ended; if there is truly only one possible response, consider re-crafting as a selected response item
  • Word items so that the expectations for responses are clear
  • Carefully consider the placement of response lines, so that students do not have to read through the whole question to understand the general nature of the response being sought
  • Include only 1–3 response lines in any given item; consider developmental appropriateness in determining number
  • Use number of response lines to provide a “signal” as to the extent of response (e.g., word, phrase, sentence)

View Example:

Example (PDF: 16KB)

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