Multiple-choice tests: You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Some students think with these tests you have at least a one in 3 or 4 or 5 chance of getting the question right. Others, though, note that the authors of the multiple-choice questions try to make the questions tricky–steering you toward the wrong answer.
Whether you like multiple choice tests or not, if you’re a student, you’ll face plenty of them. Also see our Post on Answering Different Types of Test Questions. Most Standardized tests are Multiple Choice, including Teacher Certification, College Entrance Exams and High School Tests as well as the Armed Services Entrance Exams, the ASVAB and AFQT. So are there ways to improve your score on these tests? There are! We’ll share with you some of the best strategies for answering multiple choice.
1) Tip number one: Note how many questions there are to answer. Then compare this to the amount of time you have for the entire test, and decide how long you can allot for each question. In most cases, you should spend no more than 20 or 30 seconds on each multiple-choice question. If you find yourself stuck on one for much more than that, skip it and move along. If you still have time left after you finish the other questions, you can come back to it. More on Managing Exam Time
2) Resist the temptation to answer the question before you have read it all the way through. It is amazing how many people miss a multiple-choice question because they stopped reading too soon–and missed some important detail that changed the answer. More on Reading Exam Instructions.
3) Likewise, read the question carefully. Pay particular attention to questions that are phrased in a tricky manner–and single words that change the question’s meaning.
4) Be sure you put your answers in the right spot. Many multiple-choice tests have those circles or ovals you have to color in. The disadvantage to you is that if you fill in the wrong oval for the wrong question, it could throw off every other question after that. So, check these closely, and keep an eraser handy. see also Common Mistakes on a Test
5) Never change an answer unless you are positive your first answer was wrong. It is amazing how often your first hunch is the correct one.
6) Keep in mind that if two answers some very similar to each other, while one or two or three others do not sound similar to those two, the answer is almost always one of the two answers which are similar to each other.
7) Don’t give up too soon on a question just because you think you do not know it. Usually there will be one or two answers that you can rule out immediately as being absurd. Once you have ruled out a couple of answers, you have just improved your chances of getting the answer correct.
8) Finally, never leave a question blank unless you are informed that points are taken off for a missed question. A one in four chance of getting a question right is better than a zero in four chance–and those are the odds for the questions you leave blank.
More Tips on How to Prepare for a Test