A meta-analysis was conducted on the effects of multiple-choice and openended formats on L1 reading, L2 reading, and L2 listening test performance. Fifty-six data sources located in an extensive search of the literature were the basis for the estimates of the mean effect sizes of test format effects. The results using the mixed effects model of meta-analysis indicate that multiple-choice formats are easier than open-ended formats in L1 reading and L2 listening, with the degree of format effect ranging from small to large in L1 reading and medium to large in L2 listening. Overall, format effects in L2 reading are not found, although multiple-choice formats are found to be easier than open-ended formats when any one of the following four conditions is met: the studies involve between-subjects designs, random assignment, stem-equivalent items, or learners with a high L2 proficiency level. Format effects favoring multiple-choice formats across the three domains are consistently observed when studies employ between-subjects designs, random assignment, or stem-equivalent items.
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