Multiple-choice exams. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Either way, they’re coming for you. Here are a few tips and tricks for acing your next multiple-choice test (provided you study. of course):
- No. 1
Wrong answers, aka distractors, are designed to confuse the unprepared student. So, first things first, try to ferret out a few obviously incorrect answers before you tackle a question in earnest.
- No. 2
Most test writers will draft the question first. Then the right answer. Then the distractors. This usually means that, by the time they get around to writing the last distractor, their imaginations are exhausted, which can lead to the occasional ridiculous answer. So look for ridiculous answers first, and ignore them.
- No. 3
The Same Thing
If two answers are saying the same thing, then both are usually wrong. Remember, there are multiple wrong answers, but never multiple right answers.
- No. 4
Especially with numerical answers, it’s not uncommon for test writers to try to fool students with extremes. That is, if the answers are 2, 157, 168, and 2,038, eliminate 2 and 2,038.
- No. 5
Words like “all,” “every,” and “never” are red flags, so, if you’re feeling stumped, go ahead and rule out any answers that include absolutes. Nothing’s black and white, after all.
- No. 6
“All of the above” and “None of the above” are designed to throw test takers for a loop. So here’s a helpful hint: “All of the above” is usually the right answer, while “None of the above” is usually wrong.
- No. 7
If you’re completely stumped, always choose the third answer, which is usually “C.” The difference may only be a couple of percentage points, but why not tip the scale in your favor?
- No. 8
The Similar Words
If two answers include similar words, like “intelligent” and “intelligible,” one of these is usually the correct answer. It’s up to you to decide which.
- No. 9
The Similar Answers
Similar answers, or paired answers, include things like opposites. Often, they’re similarly worded. If you can identify two answers that seem to be related, one of them is usually the correct one.
- No. 10
Answers to multiple-choice questions are sometimes given away in another part of the test, either by accident or on purpose. So try to keep previous questions in mind, and don’t forget to look at the next few questions if you’re not sure about the one you’re on.
- No. 11
If an answer includes a typo, it’s probably wrong. Typos can indicate that the test writer didn’t pay much attention to that particular answer, which, more often than not, means it’s the wrong one. On the other hand, if the test writer points out a typo to the class, go with that answer.