How to Answer Multiple Choice Questions
Last updated August 17, 2023
We've all been there - staring at a multiple choice question and feeling stumped. But don't worry, nailing these questions is easier than you might think! Whether you're in high school or college, taking the SAT or ACT, or studying for a final exam, it's a super common type of test question and there are some tricks to help you get it right.
Read the entire question.
Read a multi-choice question in its entirety before glancing over the answer options. It may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how much we don’t read the complete question! Students often think they know what a question is asking before reading it and jump straight to the most logical answer. This is a big mistake and can cost you dearly on multiple-choice exams. Read each question thoroughly before reviewing answer options.
Answer it in your mind first.
After reading a question, answer it in your mind before reviewing the answer options. This will help prevent you from talking yourself out of the correct answer.
Use the process of elimination.
Want to decrease the test pressure? Use the process of elimination. Cross out all the answers you know are incorrect, then focus on the remaining answers. Not only does this strategy save time, it greatly increases your likelihood of selecting the correct answer.
True or false test.
Read the question carefully and if you’re muddled by looking at the options, give each option a true or false test. Cross out the false answers, and this way the most appropriate answer can be found out.
Look for answers hidden in questions.
A complete reading of the question is one way to find out a few answers. This is because for some questions answers are found in the question itself. Take advantage of these freebies whenever possible.
Select the best answer.
It's important to select the answer to the question being asked, not just an answer the seems correct. Often many answers will seem correct, but there is typically the best answer to the question to get it correct..
Answer the questions you know first.
If you're having difficulty answering a question, move on and come back to tackle it once you've answered all the questions you know. Sometimes answering easier questions first can offer you insight into answering more challenging questions. The tests questions get harder as you go.
Pay attention to these words.
Pay particularly close attention to the words and an answer that includes must be irrefutable. If you can find a single counterexample, then the answer is not correct. The same holds true for the word. If an answer option includes a single counterexample will indicate the answer is not correct.
"All of the above" and "None of the above"
When you encounter "All of the above" and "None of the above" answer choices, do not select "All of the above" if you are pretty sure any one of the answers provided is incorrect. The same applies for "None of the above" if you are confident that at least one of the answer choices is true.
Keep an eye on the clock.
Part of test-taking is ensuring you can answer the questions within the allotted test time. If you spend too much time on questions, it can get you to the end. All the tips above will help, mainly focusing on the easy questions first and crossing out wrong answers. It's okay to come back to questions in the latter half of the exam. Practice the art of time management, and you'll be a multiple-choice test-taking expert in no time.
Practice tests make perfect.
Ask your teacher for a practice test or check out Khan Academy for multiple choice practice exams. The idea here is to become familiar with the multiple choice for the particular topic. The more experience you have with problem-solving, the format, and pacing your time, the more ready you'll become on exam day. Even 30 minutes of a practice test can go a long way!