Top strategies to ace multiple choice exams

Sarah Rae


Good afternoon, students!

I hope that all of your first semester exams have wrapped up and you are well on the way to completing your FINAL year of secondary school!

Graduation is creeping up and some of you are patiently waiting for those university acceptance letters, while I’m sure you are also starting to think about the differences between university courses and high school classes.

While there are quite a few differences between these two things, one thing that remains the same is…multiple choice tests!

Yep you heard me right, in university there are still multiple choice tests given to test your knowledge!

It is actually more than likely that most tests for your courses will always be more heavily in the form of multiple choice versus short answer due to the student volume being quite large (especially in first and second year courses). Multiple choice makes it easier for the professors to get them marked in a timely fashion for you.

Personally, I enjoy being tested using the multiple choice format as I like the idea of having the answer on the page in front of me…with my job just being that I need to find it!

Whether you are a fan or multiple choice or not, here are some important tips to help you ace them and maybe even begin to like them more if you didn’t before.


Pencil resting on a multiple choice testAnswer all the questions that you confidently know first

When you first start any multiple choice test, start with answering all the questions you know the answer to in an instant.

At the start, you want to push yourself to move quickly and confidently, so that there is more time at the end to go over any you struggled with or didn’t know the answer to and need to guess.

If you immediately know the answer to a question, do NOT linger! Answer it confidently and move on.

Skip over any questions that require a little thinking or that you do not know the answer to; difficult questions cause doubt and can alter your ability to answer the easier ones later in the test.

Once you have gone through the test top to bottom, answering everything you knew immediately, now it is time to go back to the top and work on the more challenging ones.


cat reading a bookRead the entire question

A lot of the time when you start to read a question, your mind tends to take off in the direction that YOU believe the question is going. Because of this, you will automatically create the answer in your head from the first five to six words alone in the question.

This is how a lot of professors will trick students! By placing words near the end of the question that change the answer entirely, while still offering the answer that would correspond to the first part of the question only.

Ensure that you have read the question in its entirety and have focused on key words such as ‘most likely,’ ‘least likely,’ ‘all but one,’ ‘true versus not true,’ etc.


Answer the question in your mind before looking at the answer options

This certain tip, while may seem minor and somewhat not necessary, has become my most used strategy I have learned through completing multiple choice exams in university!

When I move onto a question, I simply use my hand or blank piece of paper (if one has been provided) to cover up all the possible answer options. I then fully read the question and try to answer it in my head before revealing the answers.

This has helped me greatly in choosing the right answer, as it prevents me from talking myself out of selecting the correct answer if I compare it with the other options.


drawing of a lightbulbWhen in doubt, make an educated guess

So, you come to a question that you are not sure about, but you do have some knowledge surrounding the concept the question is referring to. The best thing to do? Take your most educated guess!

It important to do this ONLY when getting an answer wrong will not penalize your score.

In order to make an educated guess, the first thing you should focus on is what appears as familiar. If an option doesn’t look familiar then you are most likely right and can eliminate it!

The next thing you can do is check the other questions on the test to see if any will give a clue to another answer.

Lastly, use common sense! A lot of the time the professor will use certain words in the question that ‘match’ words in the answer.

Completely unsure? Take a wild guess!

When you come to a question that you truly do not know the answer to, and quite possibly don’t know even the context of the question–don’t freak out!

Two tips that I have been told in the past and have put to the test, are choosing the longest answer OR choosing the ‘all of the above’ or ‘none of the above’ options.

Now I am not entirely sure the science behind this, so don’t quote me, but this has proven to work for me in the past along with the majority of other students I have read about online! Worth a shot.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any other tips on how to ace multiple choice exams! We would love to hear from you! 

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