How to Get Better Scores on Multiple Choice Tests
Does your heart start pounding when you look at a multiple choice test question? Do you get nervous, reading the answer choices over and over, looking for a trap? Are you always worried that you might have missed something, or that it is a trick question?
Multiple choice tests are not just for school. Besides school exams, you will find multiple choice tests in the workplace, driving tests, and even in job applications. Learning how to score well on multiple choice tests will help you succeed in school and beyond!
Multiple Choice Questions
Multiple choice test questions come in two forms: question form and sentence completion form.
Question form consists of a question followed by answer choices. Here is an example:
What is the name of the Earth's galaxy?
- Milky Way
- Aurora Borealis
Questions in this form can have answers that are words or phrases like in this example, or answers that are paragraphs or longer.
Sentence completion form consists of a partial sentence followed by possible phrases to finish that sentence. Here is an example:
The closest star to the sun is
- Ursa Minor
- Proxima Centauri
- Sirius B
The answer choices for this form are usually a few words or a phrase.
Multiple Choice Tests
As with any type of exam question, there are strategies that can help you score higher and feel more confident when taking a multiple choice exam. In fact, once they know how to tackle them, many students think multiple choice tests are actually easier than other types!
Here are some tips for scoring well on multiple choice test questions:
- Read the question by itself, and try to come up with the answer without reading the answer choices. Then find the choice that most closely matches your answer.
- If you can't answer the question without looking at the answer choices, use the answers to give you hints about the answer.
- When in doubt, go with your first hunch. If you've studied for the test, it is most likely correct!
- Look for key words in the question. Superlatives such as "best" and "most" are often used.
- Read every answer before you choose one. Using the key words in the question, select the BEST answer. Sometimes there may be more than one that is correct, but you want the best choice.
- Eliminate the answer choices that you know are incorrect. If your test is on paper, cross them out! There is no need to keep reading them if you know they are not correct.
- If you know that two or three of the choices are correct, look for an "all of the above" option.
- Beware of "none of the above" answer choices. In order for this to be the right answer, absolutely none of the answers can be correct.
If you feel confident about an answer and you've read all of the choices thoroughly, mark the answer and move on. Don't try to read too much into the questions or second guess the teacher. This will waste your valuable test taking time, and isn't likely to help your score.
Multiple Choice Exam Tips
Here are some sample multiple choice questions, along with how to tackle them:
The atomic number of an atom is the
- The number of neutrons in its nucleus
- The number of protons in its nucleus
- The type of protons it contains
The question above contains several key words: atomic number, and atom. The first key word lets us know that the answer will be a number, which allows us to eliminate the third answer (a "type", not a number).
Ancient Egyptian mummies are
- Usually buried at sea
- Sent into outer space
- Sometimes found in Egyptian pyramids
- None of the above
In this question, we will first look at the last answer. Are any of the choices possible? If so, then the fourth answer is not correct. In this case, the third answer is plausible, so it cannot be "none of the above,"
Which of the following is true about the planet Earth?
- It has one moon.
- Its surface is made mostly of water.
- It is the third planet from the sun.
- All of the above
In this question, start with the fourth answer. If more than one of the others is correct, this is the right choice!
There are many types of multiple choice questions. Look for key words and eliminate obviously wrong answers and you'll be almost done already!
Strategies for Success
More Study Tips!
- Memory Techniques: Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic devices help people memorize information. Definitions and examples.
- How to Remember Information: Using Your Learning Style
Tips and information on how to find and use your learning style to improve your memory.
- How to Read Quickly
Want to read faster and get more done? Follow these EASY tips to get through your pile of reading faster! And, you'll actually comprehend more of it too!
Test Taking Strategies
No matter how many tips you follow, nothing can replace the need to be prepared. In a multiple choice test, it's true that you need to recognize the answer, not write it from memory. However, recognizing that answer and knowing the answers that should be eliminated is much easier when you have studied for the exam. When you know an exam is coming, make sure you understand exactly what will be covered and ask your teacher for tips on how to study. The more you know about how to study, the more likely you are to focus on the information that will be on the exam.
When you are taking a test, try to keep moving through the questions. If you have the ability to go back and answer questions that you've skipped, take advantage of it. If you get stuck on a question, skip it and come back to it. This will prevent wasting time on a single question, which could prevent you from finishing the test.