8 tips to help you ace multiple choice exams

How to do well in multiple choice exams

Multiple choice exams should be much easier than other test formats. If you don’t know the answer, you still have a one in four chance of guessing it. However, when you take your seat and reading time starts, suddenly there seem to be too many choices and they all seem right.

Steps to do well in your multiple choice exam:

So what to do if exam panic has set in? Take a deep breath and consider these points:

1. Does this answer completely address the question?

Look at the question carefully and then underline key terms and clue words in the answers. You should be able to rule out certain answers that are not possible. This process will help you eliminate as many answers as possible.

2. A little bit true?

When it comes to multiple choice questions, take them at face value and don’t create overly detailed scenarios to deduct whether an answer is true or not. Be wary of options which include absolutes such as never, always, guarantee or ensures. Such statements are highly restrictive and very difficult to defend. 

3. Make an educated guess

If you don’t know an answer, don’t just pick B or C and move on. Eliminate choices you know are incorrect. Try to narrow down the choices to one or two alternatives and compare them to see how they differ.

4. Common sense counts

If the question has an “all of the above” answer, go back and read the other answers. See if you can work out if more than one is true. If you know that multiple answers are correct, then “all of the above” is the way to go – the same logic can also be applied to “none of the above” questions.

5. Use your instincts

When you really can’t narrow the answer down, let your instincts guide you. When recall fails, sometimes we can still tap into our instincts. It is far from infallible, but if you’re really struggling to choose an answer logically give it a go.

6. Take your time answering questions

It is really important that you read all of the options and not stop when you get to one that seems likely. Take your time to read each answer and then go back and re-read the question to make sure you are on the right track. 

7. Don’t skip questions

You can’t get a point for a question you didn’t answer. While it may seem smart to jump around and answer the questions you know first, it carries the risk of running out of time. Mark the answer you believe to be right, put a question mark next to it and come back to it later if you have time.

8. Review your test choices

If you get to the end of your exam with time to spare - use it. The process of working through the exam may have triggered some memories or created associations that will change your thinking on particular questions. So go back and review.

Multiple choice exam tips for better grades:

  • Eliminate the answers you know to be false
  • Be wary of absolute statements, they can be difficult to defend
  • Make educated guesses rather than unqualified ones
  • Take the time to review each question before you finish


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