Test Taking Strategies

By: Ranna Nash, M.A.

Test Questions

Multiple Choice

  • Read the direction first.
  • Attempt to answer the question without looking at the options.
  • Preview the test. Read through quickly and answer the easiest questions first.
  • Answer the questions you know first. Mark the ones you don't know. Often answers to questions you don't know are supplied in other questions, so pay attention.
  • Eliminate the distracters. Analyze the options as true/false questions. In a negatively worded question (as in "which of the following are NOT…"), put a T or F beside each option, then simply select the false statement.
  • Never be afraid to use common sense in determining your answer. Sometimes reasoning through the questions is better than trying to recall the "right" answer.
  • When guessing, do not change answers. Research indicates your first answer is usually best, but don't be afraid to change it if you have a good reason.
  • When guessing, choose answers that are not the first or last option. Research indicates that the option in the middle with the most words is frequently the correct response.
  • Answer all questions.
  • If the first option is a correct one, look at the last option to make sure it is not an "all of the above" option. The same is true for "none of the above" question.
  • If options appear similar, chances are on of them is the correct response.
  • Read through the test a second time and answer the difficult questions.
  • Allow time at the end to check for carelessness.
Multiple Choice Difficult Questions
  • Eliminate options you know to be incorrect.
  • Give each option of a question the T/F test.
  • Question options that grammatically don't fit with the stem statement.
  • Question options that are totally unfamiliar to you.
  • Question options that contain negative or absolute words.
  • If you know 2 or 3 options seem correct "all of the above" is strongly possible.
  • Number answer: toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers.
  • If options look alike, one is correct; choose the best but eliminate choices that mean basically the same thing, cancelling each other out.
  • Change double negatives into a positive statement and consider.
  • If two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct.
  • Favor options that contain qualifiers. The result is longer, more inclusive items that better fill the role of the answer.
  • If two alternatives seem correct, compare them for differences, then refer to the stem statement to find your best answer.
  • Use hints from questions you know to answer questions you do not.

True/False

  • Read the directions before you begin.
  • Determine the number of questions and budget your time.
  • Read each question carefully.
  • Look for qualifiers: Never, all, none, only and always generally indicate a statement is false. Sometimes, generally, often, frequently, and mostly indicate a statement is true.
  • Answer all questions you know first.
  • When guessing, do not change answers. Research indicates your first answer is usually best. Note: Often true/false tests contain more true answers than false answers.
  • Answer all questions.
  • "Reason" statements tend to be false. When something is given as the reason/cause/because of something else the statement will tend to be false.

Matching

  • Read the directions carefully.
  • Determine the pattern of the matching questions. What is being matched—people with quotations, words with definitions, events with descriptions?
  • Answer the ones you know first.
  • Choose the longest column to read first
  • With each answer cross out the items used from both columns.