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5 Reasons To Feel Good About Your Next Multiple Choice Test

by S. Merritt on December 11, 2009

Let’s get straight to the point: one of the greatest challenges facing you on your next multiple choice test is not the questions. It’s how you feel about the test.

If that sounds a little flaky, hang on. Test anxiety is a crushing force when it comes to multiple choice test-taking. In fact, research shows that students with high levels of test anxiety score 15 points lower in math and English. Make no mistake – test anxiety is very real, and has a very real impact on your grades. (And, FYI, it also affects women up to twice as frequently as men.)

Conventional wisdom tells us that the better prepared we are for an exam, the lower our anxiety. The reality, however, is that for those students who are worried about the multiple choice test format, not the content, extra studying doesn’t make the fear go away. If you suffer from multiple choice test anxiety, you know first hand that weeks and weeks of test prep can go out the window in an instant when you’re faced with that first confusing multiple choice question.

We’ve offered up multiple choice test anxiety tips before, but we’re going to back up a stage in the process this time. Instead of tackling MCQ anxiety by the brute force of studying harder or longer, let’s try something different: examine why multiple choice tests are in fact easier.

Why Should They Be Easy?

Multiple choice test anxiety isn’t about content. You might pass a written test with flying colors, but put that same test in multiple choice format and you crash and burn.  The issue isn’t the knowledge. It’s being scared shirt-less about the format.

Think about it: if you actually believed that multiple choice exams were easier than other test formats, how would that change your anxiety level?

But here’s the good news. Multiple choice exams are easier. Honestly – they really are. They offer a clear advantage to the test-taker, provided they’ve learned the test format.

To start our new optimistic outlook, here are five reasons why the phrase “multiple choice” should be music to your ears:

  1. The Answer Is Given To You – That’s right.  Somewhere in the list of responses is the right answer.  What could be easier?
  2. You Can Guess – You may hear that you shouldn’t guess.  I’m telling you right now it’s not true.  (The Mastering Multiple Choice system teaches you how to guess properly.)
  3. Basic Brainwork Many multiple choice exams tend to emphasize basic definitions or simple comparisons, rather than asking students to analyze new information or apply theories to new situations.  In other words, they’re often easier.
  4. More QuestionsWhat!  I thought more questions made it harder! That may be true, but more questions means each question is worth less overall.  That lowers your risk on each question.
  5. Grammar Don’t Count – You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write multiple choice.  At the most you just have to neatly color in circles.  So you don’t have to be Picasso either.

Still freaked? If you feel like your test anxiety is related to the test style, not the content – that is, you’re more freaked out by multiple choice questions than, say, anatomy or statistics – then try Mastering Multiple Choice. It works, and it’s guaranteed. – S.M.

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