Multiple choice questions are always going to make their way into an exam so it’s best to know how to deal with them as they’re the best way to get some easy marks!
The thing with MC questions is that there is always that feeling of uncertainty and the best way to attack them is by making sure you feel 100% confident with your content. That’s why knowing your notes and syllabus inside out is really important.
Here’s our guide to attacking multiple choice questions in your exam:
#1 Rule out some options
Out of the 4 multiple choice options there are always those 2 that you can rule out straight away because they’re obviously not correct. Always start there. You might not know which organ in the body is the biggest but you do know that you can rule out eyes and ears to start with. This makes it a lot easier now that you’re only deciding between 2 options.
#2 Use reading time
Once you’ve had a read through the entire paper which should take no longer than 3 minutes, the rest of your reading time can actually be put to good use. Start working through your multiple choice questions in your head. You can get such a great head start on your paper and it’s easy to go back and remember which option you’ve picked once you can pick up your pen again because realistically it’s not like you can draft your whole essay in your head. This is a really helpful tip in exams like general or advanced maths because usually the easier, quicker questions are put in multiple choice, ones that you don’t have to do much working out for and can do at least a bit in your head.
#3 Guess if you don’t know
So the time has come where you read a question and no matter how long you spend staring at it, options A and C are equally as correct in your head. You’ve gone through the whole exam paper, you’ve spent so many minutes trying to think about what your notes said but nothing is coming to you. Yes as much as this sucks it happens, so the best thing you can do at this stage is guess. Remember there is a 25% chance you will actually get it right (better than 0% if you just leave it blank. Don’t ever leave it blank). My mantra: when in doubt go with C.
#4 Be efficient but also be thorough
There’s always a tendency with multiple choice questions to want to get through them as quickly as possible, almost like they don’t matter because what’s more important are the essays. But 25 marks worth of MC questions is the same as 25 marks worth of essay so don’t neglect them, especially when they are generally easier to do well in. You still need to pay careful attention to each question, make sure you’re reading them properly and be sure you’re circling the most correct answer. You don’t want to risk falling for the ‘trick option’. But also, don’t spend over the recommended time on MC because you don’t want to leave yourself short on time to finish the rest of the paper. Stick to the recommended time limits!
#5 Use the rest of the paper to answer MC and vice versa
The best thing about multiple choice questions is that they can often give you some really helpful bits of information that will come in handy when answering the rest of the paper, specifically the short answer questions. Whether it’s a sneaky date that they drop or even a principle that you’ve forgotten about be sure to use as much of the information from the MC questions as possible. The same can be said for the opposite of this. The rest of your exam paper might give you some clues or hints as to what the MC answers may be. They’re all using the same syllabus content so don’t treat them as two completely separate chunks of information.
Don’t just disregard multiple choice as a waste of time. There are some really easy marks to get from them and they’re also a great form of information that you can use in the rest of the paper. Take your time, rule out the definite no’s and if worse comes to worse, just take a guess.