Exam multi-choice question
Multiple choice questions consist of a question and between three and five possible answers.
The question part can be a question:
What symbol on the periodic table carries the atomic value 69?
Or, more commonly, it is the first half of a sentence (a stem):
The spread of diphtheria in the nineteenth century is ascribed to …
Regardless of the type of question, you are given some optional answers and you must select one answer from those supplied.
- The preparation for multi-choice questions is practically the same as for any other test: see phases of revision.
- Practise answering questions under the conditions you will face in the exam (try and match the physical conditions, equipment, and timing as closely as possible).
- Make sure you understand the format of the exam and how to fill in the correct answer (such as selecting the correct answer in Stream. If you are unsure, ask your course coordinator.
Strategies for answering questions
If you think critically when answering the questions, you stand a good chance of improving your odds of answering correctly.
Answering multi-choice questions can be very difficult, as often more than one answer seems to be correct. The underlying skill in answering these types of questions is to be able to choose the most correct answer.
There are two ways to approach the questions:
- Cover the answers and try and answer the question yourself. Once you have an answer, look at the options and choose the one which most closely matches your answer.
- If the answer complements the first half of the sentence (i.e. a stem question), then read the first half of the sentence with each answer. Is the resulting sentence true or false? Choose the answer which is the most true.
In some circumstances, some, or indeed all, of the answers appear to be correct. In these cases, do the following:
- Eliminate any answers which you know are definitely wrong. There is usually one answer which can be eliminated immediately for each question.
- Carefully examine answers which use negative (e.g. never) or absolute (e.g. every) words.
- If you know that two or three answers are correct, it is usually the “all of the above” answer which is correct.
- If some answers look alike, they can usually be deleted as they mean the same thing and cancel each other out.
- If two answers are diametrically opposite to each other, it is likely that one of them is the correct answer
- If two options seem correct, look at them carefully for subtle differences, and then compare them to the stem to see which fits best.