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Tips on taking Multiple Choice Tests:

You find out your having a test and it's multiple choice.  "Awesome!  This will be easy!" is what you think.  Then you get the test.  As you look at the first question, you begin to think a multiple test isn't so easy after all.  As a matter of fact it can be confusing.  You're pretty sure the answer is D but A sounds right, too!  "Oh no! I should have paid more attention to Mr. Moore" is what you begin thinking as you turn in your test.

But it doesn't have to be that way!  In addition to taking great notes in class and taking the time to study, here are some tips on how to take multiple choice tests.  These tips are based, in part, on a document prepared by Steve Houseworth, Duke University Sociology Dept. and Scott Plous, Wesleyan University Psychology Dept.

1.) First, look over the test in its entirety. Don't just plunge into answering test items.

2.) Thumb through the pages and get a lay of the land. How many questions are there? How many sections? Are some questions worth more points than others?

3.) Once you have looked over the entire test, try to estimate what pace you should maintain in order to finish approximately 10 minutes before the testing period is over. This will allow you some time at the end to check for careless mistakes like skipped questions and misread items.

4.) Some of the worst problems occur when:
• Students enter a time warp and forget to check the clock.
• Students spend too much time on one or two difficult items.

5.) Ask your teacher about a Test Activity Timer. This will help you keep up with time during the testing session. All teachers have access to this timer.

6.) Take Short Breaks. Stop for a moment and shut your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Periodically clearing your head in this way can help you stay fresh during the testing session.

7.) “Remember” you receive NO POINTS for being the FIRST ONE to complete the test!!

8.) Don’t Skip Around. There is a difference in skipping around and going on to the next item on a test when you are unsure of the answer for the current item. If you skip from one question/section to another, you may not remember to return to those items you skipped.

9.) You should always try to answer questions in order, as they appear on the test.

10.) If you are truly baffled (can not recall the content) by a question, make a mental or written note, and continue on with the test returning to that question later. HINT: write a note at the top of the first page to remind you which test question to return to.

11.) First answers are usually correct. Don’t speed through items with the idea of going back later to change answers you are unsure of. Taking time to think through each question usually means that your initial answer will be correct. There are always exceptions to the rule, but best case practices show that the first time through the test is when you are more likely to answer correctly.

12.) What to do if more than one answer seems correct. If you are utterly stumped by a question, the following strategies will help you narrow the field and select the correct answer:
• Ask yourself whether the answer your are considering completely addresses the question.

• If the answer is partly true, it is probably not the right answer. If the answer is only true under narrow conditions it is probably not the right answer.

• If you have to make a significant assumption in order for the answer to be true, and you teachers have not given you similar questions, expecting you to make similar assumptions, don’t use that answer.

• If you think an item is a trick question, think again. There are very few instances that a test item would be written with the intent to deceive. If you suspect that a question is a trick item, you may be reading too much into the question. Try to avoid imagining detailed scenarios in which the answer could be true.“Trick questions”, in most cases, are only tricky because they are not taken at face value.

• If, after your very best effort, you cannot choose between two alternatives, try vividly imagining each one as the correct answer. Most people often “feel” that one of the answers is wrong. Trust this feeling – research suggests that feelings can be correct, even when recall is poor. Go with that “gut feeling”. Although this tip is not infallible, many students find it useful and come up with the correct answer.

13.) Points To Look For Or Remember When Taking A Test!

A. If you see a response that you anticipated, circle it and then check to be sure that none of the other
responses are better. (If you are not allowed to write on the test booklet, use the same process on scratch paper.)

B. “Funny” responses are usually wrong.

C. “All of the above” is often a correct response. If you can verify that more than one of the other responses is probably correct, then choose “all of the above.”

D. “None of the above” is usually an incorrect response, but this is less reliable than the “all of the above” rule. Be very careful not to be trapped by double negatives.

E. Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification during a test in the classroom if you feel that a question could be interpreted in more than one way. You should not expect any guidance that would help you discriminate among responses, but the teacher should be willing to help you if the intent of the question is not clear.

F. Read very slowly, running a pencil under the words as you read to avoid mistakes. Re-read the stem when necessary. Look for key words in the stem which you can relate to key words in the choice.

G. Watch for absolutes such as all, none, always, never, only. Circle these words (if allowed to write on testing material) and realize that they usually indicate a false choice, unless you recall the teacher emphasizing an absolute statement during class (e.g., all cells are ___).

14.) Change an answer only when you have a concrete reason. Never change an answer because of a “feeling”. This feeling is often simply nervousness. Your “gut feeling” should have led you to pick the new answer the first time around. DO NOT confuse the two “different feelings.”

15.) Survey the test completely and read directions carefully. Always read all the choices, even when the first and second choice looks correct. Think of multiple choice tests as a series of true/false statements.

Good Luck! :)

Be on time for class. There's an old saying, "15 minutes early is on time." Being a few minutes early helps you to get settled in the classroom. During this extra time before class starts you can have your paper and pencil ready to begin taking notes, talk to your friends, etc. before class begins. Once class gets started, you are ready to go! No more fumbling in your notebook, asking someone to borrow a pencil, or being frustrated because you can't find your homework. You can give your full attention to me as soon as the bell rings. :-)

Stay Organized!

1.) Always put HEADINGS and DATES on all notes and handouts. This helps you to know the subject you have notes for and when they are relevant to taking a quiz or test.

2.) Keep a 3-ring binder for class. Keep your papers in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (by date) as you put them in your binder.

3.) Use SECTION DIVIDERS for each section you study.

4.) Keep your papers organized. NEVER cram your papers into pockets or slip into your notebook. One minute to organize your papers as you are studying or in class will save you a lot of time and worry in the future.

5.) Use colored markers to COLOR-CODE NOTES for unit sections. This helps to quickly find notes when referencing or studying for quizzes or tests.