Multiple Choice Exams

Multiple Choice Exams

Anne Reith, Ph.D.
Learning Disabilities Specialist

Keys to Multiple Choice Exams

  • Use the PROCESS OF ELIMINATION -- Eliminate what is obviously wrong or "sort-of-obvious."
  • Sometimes visualizing a picture or drawing a picture can help you determine the correct answer.

"All of the Above" & "None of the Above" Questions

  • "All of the above" is OFTEN the correct answer.

    You don't have to be absolutely sure it is before choosing it because you only have to make pretty sure that 2 of the options ARE correct -- and equally sure that none of the other answers are NOT correct before choosing it (i.e., if there is more than one correct answers, then "all of the above" must be the correct choice.

  • The same logic holds with "none of the above" questions.

Should I Go Back Over My Exam?

  • Absolutely, if you have time.
  • However, to help you use time remaining effectively.
  1. Circle the questions that you want to reconsider, and draw a line through the options for each question that you KNOW are NOT correct.

    This will save you time later by helping you know which questions to ignore and which answers you don't need to consider in your review.

But, Should I Change My Answer?

Perhaps . . .

  • Change your answer ONLY if youíve guessed on the answer.
  • Some additional suggestions regarding when to change your answer:
  1. If your "guess answer" really should be eliminated.
  2. You've remembered something that changed the odds of your guess.
  3. You misread the question (e.g., didnít notice a qualifier such as "not" or "always").

Tips on Multiple Choice Questions

  • Don't read too much into questions. Don't try to second-guess the teacher or get too elaborate.
  • Underline key words in the question (e.g., "not," "always," "males," "females").
  • If two choices are very similar, the answer is probably not either one of them.
  • If two choices are opposites, one of them is probably the right answer.
  • Don't go against your first impulse unless you are SURE you are wrong.
  • Check for negatives and qualifiers (e.g., "not," "sometimes").
  • The answer is USUALLY wrong if it contains words like "all," "always," "never," or "none."
  • The answer is USUALLY right if it contains words like "sometimes," "probably," or "some."
  • When you donít know the right answer, look for the wrong ones.
  • Don't eliminate an answer unless you actually know what EVERY word means.
  • Read every answer. Sometimes there are "decoy" answers that are ALMOST right, and itís often listed before the "real" answer.
  • If using a scantron form, consider writing your answers on the test booklet (if this is allowed) and then transferring your answers to the scantron form later. This saves time. (JUST BE CAREFUL to fill in the right bubble for the answer you want.)
  • The longest and most complicated answer is OFTEN correct, because the teacher has had to add qualifying clauses or phrases to make the answer complete and unequivocal.
  • Be suspicious of choices that would seem obvious to a 2-year-old -- teacherís donít tend to include "gimme" items.
  • Don't give up on a question that seems hopelessly confusing or hard. Look at it from another angle, restate it in your own words, draw a picture, eliminate what is obviously wrong, etc.

Based on: Fry, R. (1996). "Ace" any test (3rd ed.). Career Press: Franklin Lakes