TOP 20 TIPS FOR TAKING MULTIPLE CHOICE EXAMS
1. Read the stem and anticipate the answer before you look at the multiple
choices. The ‘distracters’ or wrong answers can be great at distracting!
2. Read all of the stem with every alternative
3. Eliminate those answers that do not agree ‘grammatically’ with the stem.
4. Use the process of elimination procedure.
5. Note qualifying words. “Usually, “often”, “generally”, “may” and “seldom”
could indicate a true statement.
6. Note negatives. If a negative such as “none”, “not”, “never”, or “neither”
occurs in the stem, know that the correct alternative must be a fact or
absolute and that the other alternatives could be true statements, but not
the correct answer.
7. Note superlatives. Words such as “every, “all”, “none”, “always” and “only”
are superlatives that indicate the correct answer must be an undisputed
fact. In the social sciences, absolutes are rare.
8. The longest response is often the correct one.
9. Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in
the stem is likely to be correct.
10. “Funny” responses are usually wrong.
11. “All of the above” is often a correct response.
12. “None of the above” is usually an incorrect response. (This is not as reliable
as the “all of the above” rule – be careful not to be trapped by double
13. When the choices are numbers (dates, times, etc.), the highest and the
lowest are usually incorrect.
14. If all else fails, choose response (b) or (c). Response (a) is usually least
likely to be correct.
15. Skip the questions that you are unsure of, and return to them at the end.
16. The most effective approach to studying is to write a multiple choice study
guide. (Do this with a study group – everyone writes 12)
17. Don’t ‘read into’ the questions – take every question at face value.
18. The Changing Answer Myth….If you have a good reason to change your
answer – change it – otherwise leave it alone.
19. Multiple choice exams require greater familiarity with details such as
specific dates, names and vocabulary. Study early and make lists and tables.
20. If, after your best effort, you cannot decide between two answers, choose
the one that ‘feels’ correct. Feelings are frequently accessible even when
recall is poor.