Multiple choice exams can be intimidating. Your mark is dependent on picking the option that “best fits” the question you’re being asked. If your strategy is something along the lines of “when in doubt pick C” or “always go with your gut” or “there’s been a lot of D’s lately, I should go with A”, these helpful tips can make even the most daunting exam doable.
Before the exam
Practice! Practice! Practice! Anything you would do to study for a regular exam can be applied to a multiple choice exam! Make flash cards, teach someone, or create a practice test. Try pairing up with someone from your class and make a mock test for each other. Not only will you need to study to find questions for your test and complete another, but you’ll also be thinking about the types of questions your professor may ask.
Remember: The more connections you can make with information, and the more you can understand (and not just regurgitate) information, the better you’ll do.
During the exam
Take care of yourself
Do what you need to to be comfortable. Do you find yourself struggling to sit through a three-hour exam without food? Check with your professor to see if you can bring a small snack in with you. It’ll help you stay focused and keep you from being hangry! Give yourself breaks throughout, and do what you need to to manage your stress.
Scan and plan
Before you start writing, scan the entire exam carefully, making sure you know how many sections/pages/questions you need to answer. You don’t want to walk away only to realize you missed a whole page of the exam! It’s also important to plan your time accordingly. Ideally, you’d want to make sure you can answer (or at least attempt), every question on the exam. If you don’t plan your time, you may spend too long on just a few questions and run out of time to complete the bulk of the exam. It’s also best to start with the questions you know how to answer.
Reread the question
Similar questions may be asking completely different things so make sure you understand the type of question being asked! While one question may ask to describe an object, another may ask you to compare. You don’t want to look back and see what you thought said, “pick one that describes…” but actually says, “pick one that doesn’t describe…” These questions are a simple way for professors to check if we’re actually reading the question and understand what’s being asked. I like to highlight key words, but do what works for you.
Write on the exam booklet
Most professors don’t mind if you write on the exam itself. Underline relevant info while crossing out what’s unnecessary. Highlighting and underlining helps to focus on what’s actually important, which will save time.
Do what YOU know
Start with what you know and work your way from there. The key to writing multiple choice exams is getting in the flow, and the best way to do so is by doing what you know first. This way, if you run out of time, you’ll have finished the questions you knew and can guess at the questions you would’ve guessed at anyway! It’ll also help boost your confidence, and confidence is key.
Answer the question before you answer the question
Cover the answers to a question before looking at the possible answers. This way you can decide what you think the answer is before being swayed by the possible choices. Once you’ve decided what the answer should be, you can select the correct answer or the one most like yours.
Narrow your choices
If you can’t answer the question on your own, look at some of the choices. Odds are, you’ll be able to pick out one or two options that are obviously wrong and eliminate them. Choosing between 2 options instead of 4 or 5 makes the question less daunting and improves your chances of getting the right answer.
If you are unsure if you made the correct choice, put a star or question mark next to the question and move on to the next. Avoid getting stuck on one question as this is taking time away from the rest of the exam. You don’t want to end up carelessly rushing through half of the test. You can always come back to those tricky questions at the end if you have enough time!
Jenna always goes with “C” when in doubt.