Q:

Is there a secret to doing well on multiple-choice tests? Our teacher tells us that if we don't know the right answer we should guess. -- Confused Student

A:

There are some secrets that can help you do better on multiple-choice tests. First of all, there's no reason not to guess on most multiple-choice tests, especially those that you take in school. By chance, you are likely to get some answers right and improve your score. Plus, you might do even better if you choose the answer B or C, as some test writers tend to use those answers more frequently. Knowing a few strategies can help you avoid errors and even answer some questions correctly when you are unsure of the answer:

  • Always read the question or problem all the way through and then carefully read all answer choices before making a selection.
  • Don't spend too much time on a question that you can't answer or are unsure of. You can mark the question and return to it later if time allows.
  • Circle, underline or fill in your answer neatly. Stray marks can result in wrong answers on machine-scored tests.
  • If you have no idea which is the correct option, begin by eliminating the options that you know are incorrect and then choose your answer from the remaining ones.
  • Options that are noticeably longer than others often have added information to make the option correct.
  • If two answers are similar, except for one or two words, choose one of these answers.
  • If you are completing a sentence, make sure that the answer would make the sentence grammatically correct.
  • Don't be afraid to change an answer; you are more likely to be right than wrong.