Secret Weapon for Multiple Choice Tests

Which of these multiple choice testing strategies have you never heard of before? That’s your new secret weapon.

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1. Before you start, note the structure of the test and plan your timing.

Here’s a nightmare you want to avoid. You turn to the final page of a test with two minutes left on the clock, only to find that the last question is a long-form essay question worth half the test points—and you’ve got zero time to write it.

If you know what’s coming, you can plan your time accordingly.

2. Read the question stem twice, then try to think of the answer yourself—without peeking at the choices.

The “stem” means the question itself, not including the answer choices.

Reading the question stem twice will help ensure that you won’t get answers wrong due to easily avoidable reading errors. And thinking up the correct answer in your head on your own—when possible—will help you instantly recognize the right answer when you see it.

3. Always read all the multiple choice answer choices.

Yes, the correct answer might jump right out at you, but carefully read the other choices as well. Sometimes you’ll realize that your original prediction actually needs to be reconsidered.

4. Don’t assume that the most familiar sounding answer choice is the right one.

Sometimes, the familiar sounding choice was planted there specifically to distract you from the right answer. When you’re choosing a correct answer, quietly ask yourself for some logical reasons why that answer is probably right.

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