11 Multiple Choice Strategies For Student Success

Posted by Erica Warren on

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, many young learners are preparing for finals. Learning the content for these comprehensive exams is imperative, but mastering the strategies for approaching multiple choice tests can also serve as a means to elevate final grades. 
happy student taking multiple choice test

Why Should Students Learn About How to Take Multiple Choice Tests?

Due to large class sizes, increasing paperwork as well as common core curriculums, multiple choice tests are becoming the fast favorite of educational institutions.  Ironically, these are the most difficult tests to create, they are often poorly written, and they commonly include tricky wording. As a result, test items can be a linguistic nightmare for some students.  They can become an obstacle course that can trip up learners with language-based disabilities or weaknesses, making it virtually impossible for them to share their true knowledge of the academic material. What's more, teachers are not properly trained on how to write and evaluate this testing format. For instance, if 50% or more of the class misses an item, teachers should discard the item as it measures one of two things.  Either the teacher did not adequately teach the material or the question was poorly worded.  Sadly, many teachers do not even have the power to eliminate items as many tests are mandated from the powers above.  So what can we do to manage this difficult situation?  We must train our students to be linguistically savvy and make them aware of the many looming booby traps that are embedded in multiple choice tests.
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11 Multiple Choice Tips

Here are a number of strategies that I teach my own students:
  1. After reading the stem of each question, anticipate the answer before looking at the options.  Then match your answer with the best choice.
  2. Read each item completely.  Even if you think you have found the answer, study every option before moving onto the next problem.
  3. Eliminate options that are clearly incorrect so you can simplify the task.  Most questions have throwaway items.
  4. If you don't know the answer, flag the item and come back to it later.  You might find the relevant information in other test questions.
  5. Options that offer broad generalizations are usually incorrect.  Watch for words like always, necessarily, only, completely, must, totally, never that make this option improbable.
  6. Options that offer qualified pointers are usually correct.  Look for words such as perhaps, sometimes, often, may and generally that make this option probable.  
  7. Be aware of words such as not, no and none as well as prefixes such as a, un, and dis.  These words or prefixes can change the meaning of the question. 
  8. Be aware of double negatives that make a statement positive.  For example, not atypical means typical and not false means true.
  9. Choose from familiar options and avoid unknown terms and wording.
  10. If you have to guess, chose one of the following: 
    1. Choose the longest answer.
    2. Choose the answer that is presented in the middle.
    3. Choose one of two opposite answers.
  11. If you get anxious, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and visualize successful results.
I hope you found this post and these strategies helpful.  If you have any thoughts or further ideas, please share them below this post.

To learn more about helping young learners develop executive functioning skills and acquiring other helpful handouts and advice, consider purchasing Planning Time Management and Organization for Success. This publication offers methods and materials that guide and support students in the areas of time management, learning strategies, planning, and organization. It includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic organizers. You will also find materials that focus reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives programs. What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college. Finally, I offer a free sample assessment from the publication too, as well as a free video on executive functioning. To Access this Click Here
Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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