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The multiple choice format is commonly used in testing because the exams are relatively easy to grade and the questions effectively evaluate students' knowledge of facts and understanding of concepts.

Work Quickly

  • Read each question only once, underlining key words as one reads. Break complicated questions into smaller segments, so that the answer choices may be checked against each part. Cross out unimportant or irrelevant parts of the question..

Guess Before Choosing

  • Decide what the answer to each question should be before looking at the answer choices. Then examine the choices and pick the answer that most closely matches your answer. Choose simple answers even if they seem obvious. And remember, never pick an answer without first reading all of the choices.

Look for Clue Words and Numbers

  • The following clues apply to many multiple choice questions.
    • If two answers are opposites, one of them is probably correct.
    • Answers with the following words are usually incorrect: always, never, all, none.
    • Answers with the following words are usually correct: seldom, generally, most, tend to, probably, usually.
    • Look for grammatical clues between the question and the choices. For example, the question and correct answer often have verbs of the same tense and have nouns and verbs that agree.
    • If two choices are very similar, differing only in degree, the one expressed in more general terms is probably correct.

Be Wary of Multiple Answers

  • Carefully evaluate "all of the above" and "none of the above" choices before selecting them. For the former, all of the responses should be correct. But if you are absolutely sure that at least two of the choices are correct, then you are probably safe in choosing "all of the above." Select the latter if you are sure at least two of the choices are incorrect.

When in Doubt, Guess

  • As long as you are not penalized for wrong answers, guessing is a good strategy to use. Even if you are randomly guessing, you should get about 25% of the questions correct. With educated guessing, the percentage may rise to 75%. 
  • When randomly guessing, try some of these tips.
    • The longest response is often the correct answer.
    • Answer "c" is a good choice if it hasn't been used for several previous questions.
    • Some instructions use patterns in their answers, such as spelling out short words like "cab" or "bad," to make it easier to grade the tests by hand. Looking for such patterns may help when guessing (but ignore patterns if you know the material or if the test is machine-graded).

Do Change Answers

  • First check the questions that were flagged the first time through the test. Then check the other questions if time permits. If you can't decide between two choices, write an explanation of your choice in the margin of the test.

Don't Give Up

  • Resist the temptation to become frustrated, bored, or anxious. Move quickly through the test. Look for material that you do know. Apply that information to questions you don't know. Use relaxation techniques to fend off anxiety. Use the entire class period to complete the test and check answers.



True-false questions are suited for evaluating students' knowledge of specific facts and concepts.

Read the Questions Carefully

  • Read each word in the statement, circling or underlining key words and phrases. Break complex sentences into parts, and consider the validity of each part separately. 
  • Statements with the following words are usually false: all, only, never, always, because. Statements with the following words are often true: seldom, generally, most, tend to, probably, usually, often, none 

Don't Quibble

  • With true-false questions, it is especially important to resist reading too much into the statements. Don't look for hidden meanings and avoid over-analyzing the questions.


  • Guess at true-false questions only if no penalties are assessed for incorrect answers. Remember, if part of the statement is incorrect, the entire question is false. As a general rule, there tend to be more true than false questions on exams; so, when in doubt, guess "true." 

Don't Change Answers

  • Unlike multiple choice tests, true-false answers should not be changed unless one is absolutely sure of the answer. If one is not sure, it is best to stick with the original impulse and write an explanation in the margin of the test.
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