Taking Multiple choice exams
Studying for a multiple choice exam requires a special method of preparation distinctly different from an essay exam. Multiple choice exams ask a student to recognize a correct answer among a set of options that include 3 or 4 wrong answers (called distractors ), rather than asking the student to produce a correct answer entirely from his/her own mind.
For many reasons, students commonly consider multiple choice exams easier than essay exams. Perhaps the most obvious reasons are that: 1. The correct answer is there, somewhere. (lucky guesses are possible) 2. Multiple choice exams tend to ask for simple information like single facts. 3. The exams usually contain many more questions thus each is worth a small amount of the grade. You can miss a few and still do OK. Despite these factors, however, multiple choice exams can actually be very difficult:
Because there are many questions, students have to know more information. Multiple choice exams also usually expect students to have a greater familiarity with details such as specific facts. You can't shotgun like on essay exams.
(Shotgunning - spraying factoids randomly, hoping that enough irrelevant information will add up to a coherent answer.)
Finally, because it is much more difficult for a teacher to write good multiple choice questions than to design essay questions, students often face higher risks due to unintended ambiguity. In other words, you get bad questions.
Students must prepare well for these types of exams. The information must be well understood and remembered. There is no room for ambiguity or having things mostly correct. If you are well prepared though, there are some strategies available that will help on exam day.
Rules when taking tests:
Do the multiple choice items first if your exam has types of questions other than multiple choice. Merely reading the questions and possible answers will stimulate your thinking. Sometimes the ideas in the questions will get you thinking about other parts of the exams. You may even find hints in one question that will help you answer other questions.
If a negative such as "none"." or "Choose the best answer".
Time is sometimes short during exams. Next. Work on them as you have time. Lastly work on the questions that are left. Be careful of "all of the above" and "none of the above" questions. do them later. There will be an answer that matches even if your thinking is backwards. Students who do well on essay exams can use this to advantage. Eliminate obviously wrong answers.
What are the directions for the question? Questions may direct you to "Choose the false statement. Read the question and assume all the information is there for a reason. Erase the mark when done. One in three students can score better with this strategy alone. or "neither" occurs in the question then you're looking for a "catch". "generally". and "only" are superlatives that indicate the correct answer must be an undisputed fact. Sometimes correct statements are included that have nothing to do with the question you're working on. Answer the questions without assuming too much. Be sure the choices available pertain to the question. Longer exams require some time management. Some options may be "All of the above" or "None of the above". "Choose the true statement.
Some students do well by reading the question and then try to answer it without looking at the choices. Words such as "every". and "seldom" are qualifiers that could indicate a true statement. Ask for clarification if needed. Read the question and scan the answers. (READ carefully though) Mark the ones you have not answered. "Usually". "may". These are sometimes the correct choice but are also often used as a distractor to confuse students. Here are some tips:
Answer the questions you are confident about first. work on the questions that you can answer with a little thought. "not". Beware of negatives. What about when it's down to two possible answers?
. Save the really tough ones for later.•
READ the whole question AND answers carefully. Don't leave any blank. There should only be a few remaining. "often". "none"." . Don't be led astray by overanalyzing. "always". Read these carefully and be positive you understand the question. "never". "all". Make sure you know what the question wants you to do.
" 4. Did you know the answer but panic? Be well prepared. Look for patterns in your wrong answers. Cover up all the other answers as you read the question over separately with each specific answer. then the correct response probably begins with a vowel.g. Be very careful not to be trapped by double negatives. If you can verify that more than one of the other responses is probably correct." for example.maybe one of them is actually the correct one.
Other possible tricks: (Caution: a clever instructor will use these generalizations to actually trick the students into thinking they are being clever. Play the old Sesame Street game "Which of these things is not like the other?" Sometimes the distractors will be very similar to trick students into thinking the choice is between one or the other. ignore the question). Try to see what the instructor was looking for with each question: Recognition? Analysis? Synthesis based on understanding? Then adjust your studying. maybe jot down how the two answers differ. when they are actually falling into a trap) 1. 5. because the instructor tends to load it with qualifying adjectives or phrases. Did you misread the question? Take your time. it promotes confidence. 7. 8. Look for verbal associations. then look again at the answers you've eliminated . Then look at the question again and ask yourself "how is this difference important for this question?" If you really think there's absolutely no difference between the two answers (e." 2. This reduces the distracting effects of the wrong answers and can make it easier for you to see intuitively which answer makes better sense. The answer will be something unrelated. such as "always" or "never" are less likely to be correct than ones that use conditional words like "usually" or "probably. If the stem ends with the indefinite article "an.Ask how the two answers differ (just the answers.
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Did you miss the question because you were unprepared? Study more carefully. 3. but this is less reliable than the "all of the above" rule. "All of the above" is often a correct response. just two words that mean the same thing). Look for grammatical clues. "Funny" responses are usually wrong. then choose "all of the above. The longest response is often the correct one.
Following-up after your exam has been returned
Meet with the professor to go over the exam. "None of the above" is usually an incorrect response.
Read the question over separately with each separate answer. Responses that use absolute words. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct.