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Pass the Test! Multiple Choice Test Taking Strategies

written by: rosy • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 1/5/2012

The secret to acing a multiple choice test is to be prepared! Although, these expert tips can't hurt either.

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    Some students think that multiple choice tests are easier than essay tests and may be tempted to not study as hard for them. However, multiple choice tests are often arranged to confuse students with only a surface level understanding of a subject. The best way to get a great grade on a test is to prepare well ahead of time. Make sure you know your material well and take special note of any material your teacher has specifically stated will be in the test. Keep some of the following strategies in mind:

    • Be familiar with the subject matter in detail. Take special note of important dates, events, names, etc.
    • Consult previous multiple choice tests or practice tests to get an idea about the type and pattern of the questions.
    • Practice as many sample questions as you can before the actual exam.
    • Study daily. This will help you to remember the information necessary to pass the test. Review your previous day’s lesson first, and then continue reviewing each lesson's notes. In this way, you will memorize the necessary facts. Don't try to cram everything you need to know into one night of studying!
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    Tips for Taking Multiple Choice Tests

    1) Before beginning, fill in all the essential information asked on the answer sheet. Depending on the test, you can lose points for not filling in your name!

    2) Take 5 minutes to have a quick look at all the questions, their pattern and number of choices given in each question.

    3) Read the instructions carefully and note the time given to roughly estimate how much time you have for each answer.

    4) After reading each question, try to anticipate the answer before looking at the answer choices. You'll find most often the answer you think of first is correct. Go with your gut!

    5) If you find words like "always" or "never" in the answer, it usually means they are not the right choices, whereas if words like "usually" or "probably" are used, they may often be a better answer choice.

    6) If an option of "all of the above" is given and you think two options are correct then probably it is the correct answer. If the choice of "none of the above" is given, it is often less of a reliable answer.

    7) First try to answer those questions which you are 100% sure about. Once you have done that, then go back to any questions you were unsure about so you can spend more time going through those.

    8) You may have to use a "guess system", if there is no underlying phrase you can use to deduce the answer.

    9) If time allows, give read over your test a second time.

    The best strategy to get success in multiple choice tests of course, is to take good notes and study hard!