When preparing for exams don't forget multiple choice questions (MCQs).

These multiple choice secrets can help when preparing for exams in any subject.


When preparing for exams many people forget to have a plan for multiple choice questions. These  can seem a quick and easy part of an exam when compared to other question styles such as short answer or essay questions, but be wary of underestimating them. Yes there will be some easy MCQs among those that you are given but usually there will be questions that are intended to trip up those who are unaware. This can dramatically decease your exam grade as MCQs are often worth a few marks each so they can make up a large percentage of your final grade. You can improve your success with MCQs with some these easy tips.

Essential Tips for Multiple Choice Questions

Pencil N' Paper
Credit: quacktaculous (flickr)

Use Your Reading Time Well: When preparing for exams don't forget to have a plan for the use of your reading time. During the reading time it is a good idea to have a look at the short answer or essay questions of course but also carefully read your multiple choice questions. Generally,  as long as your school or college's rules during reading time only exclude picking up pen or pencil, you may have the option of marking your MCQ answers lightly with your fingernail to speed things up once your writing time starts. A word of warning though: Make very sure this does not break any examination rules before you try this. As although this tip is handy it is certainly not worth taking any risk with your exam. 

Watch out for MCQ Curve Balls: Although MCQs can seem simple and straight forward they are often not. The time spent preparing for you exam  will be wasted if you don't read them carefully and double-check every answer with the question at least once before you hand your paper in for marking. This is because exam MCQs can often be written to sort out who really deserves that high mark compared to those that will gain an average grade. Remember you cannot gain partial marks for a MCQ as you can with a short answer or essay question. It is either right or wrong. Another thing to watch out for is how the MCQ answers provided often give an obviously wrong answer as well as two to three potential responses. You need to know exactly what the question is asking to give the right response between these potentially correct answers (as well as knowing your facts). Another common trick on exam papers is to place 'negatives' into the MCQ - words like 'not' as in 'does not' or 'will not'. If you give into a pattern of assuming that every MCQ is written in a positive way you can easily overlook these negative exam questions. This makes it all to easy to give the wrong answer.