How to do well on a multiple choice exam

You may be wondering how to do well on a multiple choice exam when you have so much to remember, often feeling like the answers in the multiple choice are there to trick you. Multiple choice exams are simply there to test your knowledge, problem-solving capabilities and learnings from the classroom. Though they are sometimes only worth a smaller portion of the total exam mark in comparison to the larger questions, they can still add up and be very quick to answer if you use these techniques below.

1. Answer the question in your head first

When you are going through your multiple choice questions, try reading the question without reading the answer options and think about what the answer could be. Once you have the answer, read through the multiple choice options to assess which one matches the same answer in your head the best.

Trust in your instincts, as they are usually pretty spot on when it comes to memorising important information that you have already learned. At this point your biggest time-consuming enemy is the doubt you get when being indecisive and confused, don’t let your doubt stop you from choosing the original correct answer.

The only instance in which you should change your answer is if you remember learning something in your studies that proves your initial answer is incorrect or if you have a strong gut feeling that it’s not right.

2. Eliminate incorrect answers

One way of how to do well on a multiple choice exam is to remove any answers you’re sure are definitely incorrect. Even in the case where you think you already have the right answer from briefly skimming over the choices, you should still use a process of elimination. Make sure you read each answer and weigh up if it is correct or not. Surprisingly this can sometimes lead you to find a different solution, perhaps there may be a different answer or additional correct answers.

3. Read the whole question and answers

To prevent you being tricked into selecting the wrong answer, you should always read the entire question and answers before jumping to tick a box. If you rush too much and go ahead to select the first answer you think is right, then you may be costing yourself a lot of valuable marks on your exam. Remember, making assumptions in a multiple-choice exam is definitely not a good idea if you want to ace your test. Finishing quickly can result in rash decisions and impulsive thinking, remember to spend a significant amount of time per question reading the questions and potential answers.  

4. Quickly answer the easy questions first

Often with multiple choice exams, you have a very limited amount of time to go through and answer all of the questions. The skill of time management when it comes to completing your exam, will be very helpful in ensuring that you will be able to answer as many questions as possible. Aim to be finished with the exam before the time is up so you can go back through and spend the rest of your time on harder questions that may require a longer process and more time deliberating.

Our recommendation on how to do well on a multiple choice exam, is to first, skim over all of the questions quickly in your reading time, which is generally five minutes, and then assess which ones are the easiest to answer. Go through and answer all of these easier questions first, then get onto the harder ones. By doing this it gives you more time to think and to solve the harder questions, rather than getting stuck on a more difficult question at the beginning and then leaving easier questions and guaranteed marks unanswered when you run out of time.

5. All of the above answers

In some multiple-choice exams you will notice that there is occasionally the option for ‘all of the above’ or ‘none of the above’. This can sometimes be a good clue to what the answer will be, more often than not it may be the ‘All of the above option’. But again, making assumptions is a bad idea in exams. When looking over the answers, count up how many you think are correct, if you assess that they are all correct then ‘all of the above will be your answer. If none are correct and you have an option for ‘none of the above’ then this should be the answer you will choose.

6. Guess

Although we don’t encourage simply guessing when it comes to multiple choice exams, we do encourage you to have an honest guess in certain circumstances. This includes cases where you are absolutely stuck for an answer but don’t want to lose a potential mark or don’t have enough time to waste on the same question – there may be longer, harder and higher marked questions to get through before the time is up.

When guessing, always go for the one you think is the most correct. This could be correct after all. But to ensure you don’t need to guess in future tests, you need to study.

7. Study beforehand

Sometimes we don’t take multiple choice exams seriously and underestimate their difficulty, only to be shocked when we come across a hard question. In the run up to your multiple choice exam, always be looking over your classroom notes and testing yourself to ensure that you are up to date with curriculum topics and materials. If you are having difficulty learning a certain new skill, ask your teacher or tutor to give you more support so you will be better prepared in the case that your weaker subject pops up as a question on your multiple choice exam.

Another tip on how to do well on a multiple choice exam is to work on improving your memory and implementing healthy lifestyle habits such as getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy so your brain is functioning at full potential.

If you’re preparing for the HSC trial exams and want support to accelerate your knowledge and learning performance, look no further than C3 Education Group. At C3 Education Group, we specialise in tutoring for nearly all subjects and age groups. We understand that all students learn at different paces and look to help our students not only ace their exams but get their best personal mark possible. If you would like to know more about how to do well on a multiple choice exam, contact us today to learn more.