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Cover the Options – A Simple MCQ Strategy [Multiple Choice Questions]

by S. Merritt on September 11, 2009

In multiple choice test jargon, the incorrect options on the test are called distractors, and they’re aptly named because they do just that: distract you from the correct answer.

Distractors are tough. They lead to second-guessing, and increased test anxiety. Good multiple choice test-taking, on the other hand, is all about focus, and distractors don’t make the job of staying focused any easier. To decrease the power of distractors, try this simple trick.

Using a blank sheet of paper, a ruler or even your hand, cover up all the response options for the question.  Just read the stem. Make sure the distractors are invisible. This allows you to:

  • Focus solely on the wording of the question
  • Not be distracted or misled by some of the possible answers (remember, test-makers can be out to trick you)
  • Stay calm and work the test, instead of the test working you

Make sure you get the options covered completely before you even start reading the question. Even a quick glimpse and your eye will pick up some of the options before you have a chance to look away.

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