Basic Rules for Taking a Multiple-Choice Test

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  1. Typical Content of Multiple Choice Exams:

    • Memory of details 

    • Facts 

    • Comprehension 

    • Problem-Solving 

  2. How to Prepare for a Multiple Choice Exam:

    • Keep up with reading assignments

    • Review notes after class for understanding and follow up with the text, professors, TAs, tutors, peers, etc. if clarification is needed 

    • Definitions are important on multiple choice exams. Create and test yourself using flashcards or quizlets to help you memorize definitions

    • Test your ability to distinguish concepts and ideas by the use of comparing and contrasting

    • Construct diagrams, charts, tables, and lists to summarize relationships

    • Test your ability to recall information by writing down everything you can remember about specific topics without using your notes or textbook. This will help you recognize topics that you may need to spend more time studying. 

    • At least five days before the exam, review your notes and textbook and identify the major concepts that have been covered. You should not be learning the information for the first time…this should be a review! 

  3. How to Take Multiple Choice Exams:

    • ​Figure out how much time you are able to spend on each question by dividing the amount of time by the number of questions to answer. Try to stick to that time limit so that you are able to answer every question. You may also want to leave 10 minutes at the end as a buffer to go back and check your answers.

    • Read the instructions thoroughly

    • Determine what the question is asking by identifying key words in the stem. 

    • Try to answer the question before looking at the answers, but make sure you read every answer before choosing. 

    • Eliminate options you know to be incorrect

    • Identify keywords in questions (watch for words like “all”, “always”, “never”, “none”, “few”, “many”, “some”, “sometimes”) 

    • Look for grammatical clues. For example, if the stem ends with "an," then the correct response probably begins with a vowel. 

    • Translate double negatives into positive statements. 

    • Responses that use absolute words, such as "always" or "never" are less likely to be correct than ones that use conditional words like "usually" or "probably." 

    • Avoid choosing answers that are unfamiliar or that you do not understand. If you have studied carefully, a choice that is unfamiliar to you is probably incorrect. If you don’t recognize the answer because you didn’t prepare adequately, this tactic does not apply. 

    • Use exam questions to help you answer other exam questions. Correlating information between questions may assist you in finding the right answers. 

    • Do not keep changing your answers. Stick with your first impression unless you misread the question the first time. Be careful not to read things into the questions that are not there. 

    • Overall, remember that you are looking for the BEST possible answer provided among the options