Multiple choice tests may seem like the easier option at first: you don’t need to write an inordinate amount of text, discuss or defend your points of view. Yet they can also be one of the trickiest tests to master.

For one, a well drafted test depends greatly on the examiner’s ability at making clear distinction between choices. Secondly, students can fall into the trap of skimming through the options quickly and answering the first one that seems right, without ‘checking the fine print’. Finally, multiple choice tests have the uncanny ability to leave students feeling rather insecure after the test – ‘Have I answered correctly?’ ‘Is there any chance I have overlooked the right answer?’ are typical questions students often ask themselves after a multiple choice test.

Essay type questions may be difficult, but if you know the subject matter and you have make it a point to answer the exact question posed to you, chances are, you know your grades will reflect your effort. Multiple choice tests are not an insurmountable obstacle, though, no matter how hard they seem.

Follow these tips and don’t be a victim to confusion and insecurity:

  • Read the question carefully. Some questions can be trickily worded, meant to trap, as it were, careless minds or those who whiz through questions with a false sense of confidence. Watch out for ‘double negative’ questions, such as “Which of these statements cannot be classified as untrue” – which is, of course, a convoluted way of saying, “Which of these statements is true?”.
  • Read ALL the options – don’t choose an answer until you have done so. When you encounter what you think is the right answer, you may select it haphazardly. Reading all the answers encourages you to question whether your initial selection was right. Very often, it will make you change your mind altogether and realise that a word or two in your initial answer skews the meaning of a statement and makes it incorrect.
  • Don’t spend too long on difficult answers: Even in the case of multiple choice tests, you need to allocate a specific amount of time to each question. Say the test lasts for an hour and five minutes there are 30 questions. You should try to spend more than two minutes on each question and allocate five minutes for revision. If you are having difficulty with a particular question, leave it and come back to it later. Most of the easier questions will take much less time, so you will find that you probably have a few spare minutes to use on questions you have gotten stuck on previously. Leaving a question to later may also allow you to approach the question from a new perspective.
  • Revise your work: Always allocate time for revision. Most students find glaring mistakes then cannot believe they didn’t spot the first time around at the revision stage. Use your instinct and spend the most time on the questions you have found the trickiest; if you feel that something about an answer is not quite right, chances are, you’re right.

We hope that you have found these tips useful. If you would like to share them, please do. Also, if you have some things that you have found work for you, please share them with us via the comments.




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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.