How to get better scores on multiple choice questions

Exams require a lot of studying especially those that deal with high level math, physics, college admission and final exams. There are a lot of exam types however I will delve more on multiple choice tests, the most common format of objective tests, since I am going to take one myself. Particularly, the Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) Board Exam for ECE graduates. Here, I am going to show some tips I learned while preparing for my exam which is scheduled on August 25 – 27, 2018.

When it comes to multiple choice questions you have probably heard the common advice: when in doubt, always pick B or you probably heard it was instead of C instead of B. In whichever case, this has been the age-old advice everywhere.
We were given this advice by our parents, classmates, or read it on the internet. I’m pretty sure my childhood crush mentioned this to me during our Maths class.

To make sure you’re not building your multiple choice strategies on unfounded advice, we’re going to check on more well-founded and useful advise to top or at least pass that multiple choice test.

Associate questions to the answers. In a study, “The influence of retrieval on retention” by Carrier M., Pashler H. they concluded that it is more effective to retain and retrieve ideas when there is stimulus present or something to associate the questions or ideas with rather than doing a pure study without association of concepts or formulas. It is much easier to recall concepts and formulas when they are used along with key images and words. In addition, the more exaggerated, and integrated with the senses — the more ingrained it will be on your memory! As the famous mnemonic for memory recall states, IAMImagination + Association = Memory.

Repetition is the key.  Whenever you repeat something over and over, It becomes stored on your short term memory and then moves to your long term memory.

Consistency. It helps a lot in forming the required habits and positive reinforcements.

Choose the longest answer. In the book “Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody“Poundstone, the author,  noticed that the longest answer on multiple-choice tests was usually correct. “Test makers have to make sure that right answers are indisputably right,” he says. “Often this demands some qualifying language. They may not try so hard with wrong answers.” If one choice is noticeably longer than its counterparts, it’s likely the correct answer.

Elimination. Provided that you do not know the answer to the questions, you can resort to elimination method. A study ‘WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM A (GOOD) MULTIPLE-CHOICE EXAM?’conducted by Edward F. Redish and Lei Baoa found out that examinees who concentrate more on eliminating possible incorrect choices and distracters fared better than the others. In the study, when examiners were asked regarding Newton’s second law of motion ,”relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma” but some answers were leaning on Newton’s First or Third Law, they were able to pinpoint which answer would probably the correct one.

Look at the surrounding answers.  Poundstone found correct answer choices hardly repeated consecutively, so looking at the answers of the questions you do know will help you figure out the ones you’re stuck on. For example, if you’re stuck on question No. 2, but know that the answer to No. 1 is A and the answer to No. 3 is D, those choices can probably be eliminated for No. 2. Of course, “knowledge trumps outguessing,” Poundstone reminds us. Cross out answers you know are wrong based on facts first.

Final Thoughts. All of the above tips are helpful, but in the end, preparation is the most important aspect to succeeding on multiple choice tests. Nevertheless, the tips I just covered should help us increase us score in the event that we get stuck on a question…which is pretty much inevitable.



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