Tips for Taking Multiple Choice Tests: The Test

You can download a copy of the entire set of tips here: Tips for taking Multiple Choice Tests


1. Do NOT psych yourself out.

If you believe you have a mental block on multiple-choice tests, you will certainly have that mental block. If you believe you are going to fail, you have just made that very thing much more likely. Panic actually bathes your brain in chemicals that slow or halt its functioning. Breathing brings oxygen to your brain. So BREATHE!

2. Look over the test and pace yourself.

If there are 15 items on a math test, and you are given 90 minutes to do them, you obviously have roughly 6 minutes per item. Look over the test, and do the easy ones first. This will not only now make the test size more manageable in your mind, it will also boost your confidence and help you manage time better. It will also give you more time per remaining item! If you can, give yourself a few seconds’ break within the test time to take a breath and refocus.

Try to leave time for review before the test period is up. Give yourself a brief 15-30 second break where you clear your mind and think of something relaxing before you do this to clear your head.

3. Read each question thoroughly.

Read the question BEFORE you look at the answers. Come up with the answer in your head, and THEN look at the choices.

Look for key words such as NOT, ALWAYS, EXCEPT, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING… BUT, etc. They may not be capitalized, so make sure you slow your eyes down. Underline them or circle them so that you notice them.

4. Read each choice carefully.

Do not operate by instinct. You will overlook key words or get caught by a distractor or a partially right answer.

Read each choice. Did you find the obvious right answer? GREAT! If not, make sure the answer you choose answers the complete question, especially if you get down to one of two possible right answers.

5. Pretend that each choice is a true or false statement, and choose the statement that is most true.

Rephrase the question with the answer you chose as a statement. Ask yourself: is this true?

6. Use your knowledge of vocabulary to eliminate wrong answers.

If a question is asking about water, and you know hydro- is the Greek root for water used in a possible answer, that may very well lead you to the correct answer.

7. Remember, the right answer is there!

Eliminate the obviously wrong answers. If you don’t see it, and you have prepared completely, then you are probably misreading either the prompt or the choices. Reread.

Eliminate obviously wrong answers. These are called “distractors” for a reason.

8. Most multiple choice questions involve either simple recall, cause/effect, or comparison.

9. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR FIRST ANSWER unless you discover that you have misread or misunderstood a question.

10. Guess rather than leave an item blank.

There is no penalty for guessing on my tests, but a blank is a wrong answer without question.

11. If you see “all of the above” as an option, check to see if you can find two answers you are certain that are right. If you do not find this, all of the above is the answer, or the test authors have screwed up. It happens. Get over it and move on.

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