Tips on Taking Multiple-Choice Tests, 27/04/2010, 16:29 Lượt xem: 2231

Look Over the Test and Pace Yourself

When you first get the exam, don't just plunge into answering test items. Instead, thumb through the pages and get the lay of the land. How many questions are there? How many different sections? Are some questions worth more points than others? Once you've looked through the entire test, try to estimate what pace you should maintain in order to finish approximately 10 minutes before the period is over. That way, you'll have a little time at the end to check for mistakes like skipped questions or misread items.

Some of the worst problems occur when students enter a time warp and forget to check the clock, or when they spend too much time on one or two difficult items. To prevent this from happening, one trick you can use is to scribble the desired "finish time" time for each section right on the test booklet. That way, you'll be prompted to check the clock after completing each part of the exam.

Take Short Breaks

Try taking a few breaks during the exam by stopping for a moment, shutting your eyes, and taking some deep breaths. Periodically clearing your head in this way can help you stay fresh during the exam session. Remember, you get no points for being the first person to finish the exam, so don't feel like you have to race through all the items -- even two or three 30-second breaks can be very helpful.

Don't Skip Around

Skipping around the exam can waste valuable time, because at some point you will have to spend time searching for the skipped questions and re-reading them. A better approach is to answer each question in order. If you are truly baffled by a question, mark the answer you believe to be right, place a question mark next to the question, and come back to it later if you have time. Try to keep these flagged questions to a bare minimum (e.g., fewer than 10% of all items).

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your First Answer

Even though first answers are often correct, you shouldn't be afraid to change your original answer if, upon reflection, it seems wrong to you. Dozens of studies over the past 70 years have found that students who change dubious answers usually improve their test scores. For example, a May, 2005, study of 1,561 introductory psychology midterm exams found that when students changed their answers, they went from wrong to right 51% of the time, right to wrong 25% of the time, and wrong to a different wrong answer 23% of the time (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 88, 725-735).

What To Do If More Than One Answer Seems Correct

If you're utterly stumped by a question, here are some strategies to help you narrow the field and select the correct answer:

Ask yourself whether the answer you're considering completely addresses the question. If the test answer is only partly true or is true only under certain narrow conditions, then it's probably not the right answer. If you have to make a significant assumption in order for the answer to be true, ask yourself whether this assumption is obvious enough that the instructor would expect everyone to make it. If not, dump the answer overboard.

If you think an item is a trick question, think again. Very few instructors would ever write a question intended to be deceptive. If you suspect that a question is a trick item, make sure you're not reading too much into the question, and try to avoid imagining detailed scenarios in which the answer could be true. In most cases, "trick questions" are only tricky because they're not taken at face value.

If, after your very best effort, you cannot choose between two alternatives, try vividly imagining each one as the correct answer. If you are like most people, you will often "feel" that one of the answers is wrong. Trust this feeling -- research suggests that feelings are frequently accessible even when recall is poor (e.g., we can still know how we feel about a person even if we can't remember the person's name). Although this tip is not infallible, many students find it useful.