Although pictures are often added to text in items of educational tests, little is known about their influence on item solving. Therefore, we conducted an experiment in which we examined how pictures affected item solving. A total of N = 158 fourth-grade students completed a physics knowledge test under one of six experimental conditions. The experimental conditions varied according to whether or not pictures were presented in the stem and in the answer options of the test items. The results showed that pictures in the stem and in the answer options increased the correctness with which students responded to the test items. This was particularly true for test items that required the application of relationships. In addition, response time was reduced when pictures were added to the answer options of the test items. Hence, pictures are an important feature of test items that produce changes in item processing. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.