Tips on How to Answer Different Types of Test Questions

Often you go into a test and are not sure what types of questions will be asked and sometimes the exam can consist of different types making it even more difficult to be fully prepared. With a variety of choices teachers like to challenge their students but here are a few tips that should help you answering the different types of exam questions, as well as links to more information about each type of question.

Essay This is usually the most time consuming type of question so it can be tricky because you have to ensure that you have enough time to answer. Whether you have to choose from one or a selection you should quickly read through the questions and decide which ones you will answer and then plan your approach. Your opening statement or introduction should state your case for what you want to say. The bulk of the essay will be in the three or more paragraphs in the body of the essay where you use any quotes or examples to clarify your points. The last paragraph should be concise and state your conclusion. Keep track of the time and if you are running out of time, use bullets to make your points.  How to Study for an Essay test

Fill in the Blank Make your answers short and to the point and use whatever comes to mind to complete the sentence or to fill in the answer. Don’t leave anything blank – at least guess if you aren’t sure or don’t know the answer.  Short answer and Fill in the Blank questions.

Multiple Choice – Most Standardized tests, especially College Entrance, Teacher Certification, Armed Services Entrance Exams like the AFQT, Securities Certification Exams like the Series 7 and High School tests are multiple choice.  Read each question carefully and try to answer it without looking at the choices. Your first instinct is usually right. Don’t over analyze but be sure to read each answer because many times they can be very similar and can trick you if you are too hasty. A good rule of thumb is that when a question uses words like always, never, none or all the statement is usually incorrect. Conversely those that use words such as most, rarely, often or sometimes are often correct.  How to Answer Multiple Choice

Open Book – This test can sometimes be the most challenging because you think it will be easy. Use post-its, underline or highlight chapters in table of contents and use separate papers to keep definitions or other formulas handy.  Taking Open Book Exams

True or False – All parts of a statement must be true for it to be true and all parts of a statement must be false for it to be false. Words such as always or never are usually false and the words sometimes or often are usually true. When in doubt you should say true as statistics show that more than 50% of these questions are usually true.  Answering True False Questions

See Also – Answering Math Questions and Answering Reading Comprehension Questions and  Answering Problem Based QuestionsAnswering Verbal Analogies and Answering Word Problems

About the Author

Brian has a BA in Economics, and an MA in Psychology. He lives in British Columbia, Canada. He has traveled widely and has written extensively on education, testing and tests.

Comments (7)

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  1. davey467 says:

    you really need to understand how to answer diffeent exam formats as each one needs a different approach

  2. Anonymous says:

    well my teachers test are multiple choice, but he creates really trick question. Im not sure whats harder multiple choice or test that are fill in the blank. Fill in the blank can inly be one answer and you you now the material your surly to get the right answer and not get tricked.

    what do you think?

    • Robert says:

      Both can be tricky and nothing beats knowing your stuff! Multiple choice may be a little easier, though it is a matter of opinion, because you can frequently get clues from the question and use strategies like eliminating the clearly wrong answers which does help. I think that gives a slight edge – but others may disagree!

  3. Habtemariam says:

    I agree with Jackie’s idea

  4. Rob says:

    Does anyone have any more good information on answering essay questions. I really do hate them. I feel like they ask this very general question and I have to try to say everything that I know about the topic and hope that my answer will hit on that one thing that they are looking for. I have had professors say that they give partial credit, even if you don’t say exactly what they wanted you to. But it’s never very much. Is there a way to really zero in on what answer the teacher is looking for?

  5. Ann says:

    I agree with Ann. Unfortunately, I’ve had to guess a lot on tests. :roll:
    But also, one thing that I have really tried to do before I take a major test in class is to clarify what will be on it. Sometimes teachers don’t even pass out a good outline or let you know what type of test it will be, so if they don’t then I like to ask. It’s way too hard to prepare when you aren’t sure exactly what you will have to know. For example, I had a test in anatomy that we all thought was going to be multiple choice so I focused more on knowing how things work- function and how they all work within the systems. But it ended up being almost all labeling the different features of the muscular system. I didn’t do too well on that one, because if I’d known I would have focused my studying in a different direction. It’s important to find out the format and EXACTLY what you should be studying, and if the teacher doesn’t tell you explicitly, you should ask!

  6. Jackie says:

    There is one thing that many people overlook when they are preparing to take an exam, and that is- as silly as it sounds- learning how to guess most effectively. Of course, it is best if you know the material well and are absolutely certain about every answer, but that isn’t usually the case. Knowing how to guess (with purpose) can drastically improve your score vs. blind guessing. This blog does give one good tip for eliminating multiple choice answers, and that is to pass up any answers that have the word never or always in them, as they are rarely correct. Also, if there are several short answers and one that is more involved or detailed, there is a good chance that the more detailed one is correct. In short, yes you should study as hard as you can, but you should also read about how to improve your test-taking skills, which can help when you really need it- that is, when you have no idea what the correct answer is!

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