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Why You’re Struggling With Multiple Choice Questions (And What to Do About It)

by S. Merritt on September 9, 2009

First of all, you’re not alone. One of the great injustices of our modern education system is that many people are being left behind by objective testing because they aren’t taught how to master the test format. Students are offered all kinds of support for the tools of essay-style response tests – skills like  spelling and grammar – but we don’t learn the skills for multiple choice test-taking.

The fact is, multiple choice questions and tests can be incredibly challenging.  Here are just a few reasons why multiple choice tests may be giving you grief:

  • Overconfidence – you think multiple choice tests are easy, so you study less.
  • Trickery – your professor thinks that multiple choice tests are easy, so they create tricky, confusing questions.
  • Time Pressures – multiple choice tests are often intentionally lengthened.  We’ve all felt this one.
  • Broader range – the questions are short and fast, so a LOT of ground can be covered in one exam.
  • Specific data – Since the answers are right there on the page (yup, it’s true), specifics like dates, names and places become fair game.
  • Can’t bluff No BS on these suckers.  No part marks.  No bonuses for writing an eloquent sentence to disguise the fact that you have absolutely no idea what the answer is.
  • Difficult for teacher to write – That’s right.  Creating a good multiple choice test is a skill.  And not all teachers and professors have it.
  • Content is shuffled – many multiple choice tests have no structure whatsoever.  You could be answering a physics question and a history question back to back.  That’s hard on the noggin.

What to do about it

The solution is to fill the gap that the education system isn’t. To get the marks you deserve on multiple choice tests, you need to master the MCQ test format. You need to learn test taking skills that are specific to multiple choice exams – not generic ones for “all” tests. My recommendation, and granted it’s a biased one, is that you use Mastering Multiple Choice. You can read the testimonials if you like, or the FAQ’s, or you can just order it. But it will help. Guaranteed.

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