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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
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Short Answer

Short-answer items require that students respond to a question or imperative by generating a brief text, typically from one or two sentences to a paragraph in length.   This item format requires that students select, organize, express, and extend their ideas and understandings.


  • May be used to assess higher level thinking, including application and extension or interpretation
  • Requires actual creation (rather than recognition only) of correct response


  • Responses 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 while students may not necessarily respond in identical ways, the expectations for that item are clear
  • Use a clear cueing verb (e.g., explain, describe, analyze, support, illustrate, defend, discuss, etc.) to ensure that students convey their thinking and understanding
  • Use numerical cues thoughtfully, so that quality, rather than the quantity, of response is the focus

View Examples:

Music Activity 5

Music Performance Task 12B

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