How to Answer Fill-In-the-Blank Questions

While fill-in-the-blank test questions are not common on standardized tests, it is a form of testing that many teachers use, especially in High School tests.  See our Ultimate Guide to Test Preparation as well.  Along with fill-in-the-blank questions, you may even have short answer questions on many of your tests, and there are strategies you can use to accurately answer these types of questions.

The first step is understanding what a short answer or fill-in-the-blank questions are. These types of questions generally will require you to read the problem and fill in the correct answer. Fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions test your ability to recollect facts and trivia you have learned. This leads us to one of most important short answer and fill-in-the-blank test strategies, good study skills.

Another way to understand a short answer question is by looking at the directions. Sometimes a question is asked through telling you to ‘define’ or ‘define and tell the significance of the following.’ This means you will be required to write a sentence or more to answer the question. Now that you understand the meaning of fill-in-the-blank and short answer tests, you can learn some strategies to help you score high on those tests.

Many of the strategies are the same as Answering Multiple Choice questions.  See Answering Multiple Choice Part 1


1. The first strategy is to look for clues in the test question. This means to see if the question is worded differently than what is commonly used and then you may be able to find the correct answer. If the test maker did use a different type of phrase, it is wise to consider that as a way of finding the answer to the question and how it should be worded.

2. Just because you have looked for clues does not mean you have to read to much into the test question, which leads us to the next strategy, do not look for hidden meanings. Fill-in-the-blank and short answer tests are basic, which means that these tests usually only want you to recall facts from the notes you took in class or read in your books. These tests will only require hardly more than an accurate recollection of those facts. If you look for hidden meanings that are not there, you will end up making the test more difficult. If you have already studied well for the test, your answers should come easily.

3. As with any type of test, making an educated guess on fill-in-the-blank and short answer tests is a good strategy to use when you are stuck. Often times, you will remember more when you start writing, moreover, you may be able to receive partial good marks for getting the answer almost right. An educated guess consists of as much specific information as you can recall and then fill in with words like ‘tends to,’ ‘may,. and ‘often.’

4. If you are still a little stumped, you should count the number of blanks provided with the fill-in-the-blank question. This can give you an idea of what information is needed because teachers can let you know what answer they are looking for this way. This isn’t likely to be useful on a standardized test, but probably a good strategy on a High School test.  Keep in mind though, that there can be really short or long blanks, as well as any number of them, so if you are sure that a two blank question has a one word answer write it down and move on.

See Also – What to do in the Test Room Part 1 & Part 2


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Modified: September 26th, 2017
Published: November 9th, 2007

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