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Test-taking strategies for multiple choice tests

In a multiple choice exam, a question or statement is posed; this is called the stem. You are usually presented with four to five choices for the answer, one of which is correct. The following strategies will help you eliminate incorrect choices.

Strategy 1

Read the stem and each choice as if it were a separate true-false statement. Determine whether the statement is true or false. As you determine choices to be false, mark through them.

Strategy 2

In some cases, two choices may seem correct. Reread the stem to identify slight differences in meaning and choose the best answer.

Example: The best example of the use of short-term memory is

  • reciting key points in reading material.
  • repeating a phone number just told to you.
  • understanding what categorization means and using this information on an essay exam.
  • remembering the name of a friend whom you have not seen for eight years.

c & d are examples of long-term memory, so you can eliminate those two choices. The stem asks for the best example of short term memory. Reciting helps put information into long-term memory, so b is the best answer.

Strategy 3

Look for answers that are grammatically correct. For example, using “an” indicates an answer beginning with a vowel. Select answers that match the stem for being plural or singular.

Small salamanders are:

  • mole
  • tarpon
  • cowl

Strategy 4

Look for root words in the answers that are similar to words in the stem of the question.

If an individual dies without a will, it is called:

  • the principle of primogeniture
  • testamentary freedom
  • illegal

Strategy 5

If there is a wide range, choose a middle value

As late as 1800, less than ____ percent of the world's population lived in cities of 20,000 or more.

  • 1
  • 3
  • 10
  • 15

Now go to the Practice Test to put these strategies to use.