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Test–taking strategies for true–false tests

Professors tend to emphasize details in true–false questions, which means you must read carefully when answering these questions.

Strategy 1

For a statement to be true, each part must be true. One detail can make an entire statement false.

True | False  Jean Piaget made some revolutionary discoveries about child behavior during the nineteenth century.

Strategy 2

True–false questions may use words called “absolutes” that imply there are no exceptions. Examples of such words are “never”, “always”, “all”, “everyone”, and “only”. These tend to make a statement false – but not always.

True | False  Everyone should exercise daily.

True | False  All types of cars have some kind of engine.

“Qualifiers” such as “usually”, “sometimes”, “often” can tend to make a statement true since they allow for exceptions. However, not always.

Example 1: Children sometimes have emotional problems following their parents' divorce.
The qualifier sometimes makes this statement true. It is allowing for exceptions, not stating that children always have emotional problems following their parents' divorce.

Example 2: The word steep is usually used as a verb.
The qualifier “usually” makes this statement false. The qualifier usually indicates that, more often than not, steep is used as a verb (i.e., to steep tea). However, it more frequently is used as an adjective (i.e., steep hill).

Strategy 3

Adding “negatives”, words like not, can make statements challenging but not necessarily false.

California is not a state in Canada. True

It is not true that Canada is north of the U.S. False

Strategy 4

Remember that two negatives (double negatives)make a positive.

Aspirin is not an illegal drug means

Aspirin is a legal drug.


Cross out the negative words in the following sentences and rewrite them. After they are removed, identify whether the positive statement is true or false.

True | False  It is not true that organically grown apples are unhealthy.

True | False  It is unprovable that there is life in outer space.

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