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Guessing with Multiple Choice

  • Eliminate options you know to be incorrect
    If allowed, mark words or alternatives in questions that eliminate the option
  • Give each option of a question the "true-false test:"
    This may reduce your selection to the best answer
  • Question options that grammatically don't fit with the stem
  • Question options that are totally unfamiliar to you
  • Question options that contain negative or absolute words.
    Try substituting a qualified term for the absolute one, like frequently for always; or typical for every to see if you can eliminate it
  • "All of the above:"
    If you know two of three options seem correct, "all of the above" is a strong possibility
  • Number answers:
    Toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers
  • "Look alike options"
    Probably one is correct; choose the best but eliminate choices that mean basically the same thing, and thus cancel each other out
  • Double negatives:
    Create the equivalent positive statement and consider
  • Echo options:
    If two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct
  • Favor options that contain qualifiers
    The result is more inclusive and often better fills the role of the answer
  • If two alternatives seem correct,
    compare them for differences, then refer to the stem to find your best answer
  • Use Common Sense
    Joke answers are typically incorrect.  Also,  even if you know nothing about the subject, use what you already know to guess the correct answer.  If you don’t understand terms, try to guess their meaning (and the answer) by the context of the question. 

There is NO foolproof system for guessing.  Each individual instructor can and will have different quirks.  Use their past exams to try to determine any individual patterns.