Tips for Taking Multiple Choice Tests

Do you think multiple-choice tests are easier than essay type questions? A lot of students think so, and I used to think the same as well. But then I realized that having multiple choice questions for exams definitely does not mean that it is easier, nor does it mean that you don’t have to put as much time into preparing for it.

Wondering why that is the case? This article will tell you all about it!

This post talks about:

  • Why MC test is actually not easier than other types of exams
  • Why you should prepare for MC test thoroughly
  • How to answer a multiple choice question well


Why should you prepare for a multiple choice test carefully?

It should probably be clear to you that a multiple choice test is not easier. In fact, in order to do well on a multiple choice test, you would have to understand your materials thoroughly.

MC test covers a broader range of topics

When doing essays, you always have the time to elaborate on your thoughts and expressions. If you don’t understand certain concepts, you can refrain from writing them. It is even possible to just study two to three topics and pick the relevant questions to answer in an essay exam paper.

But for multiple choice test, you don’t have that option. You can’t choose what to answer and what to not answer, and it is only right and wrong. Since there are a lot of questions in an MC test, that also means that it will cover all different topics included in the exam syllabus.

MC test requires a deeper understanding and familiarity of the materials

Yes, you may be able to guess the answer. And it may seem that you have a higher likelihood to guess the answer than in essay questions. But this is indeed very risky.

What MC test requires from you is a very deep understanding of all the content covered, and it also tests all your understanding of different concepts and information.

You may know some facts roughly, but that is not enough. A difficult (and good) MC question often gives you options that may seem correct when you first look at it, but you will know that it’s not the most accurate answer if you have really studied the materials.


How Can I Answer Multiple Choice Questions Well?

Now, assuming that you have prepared well for your multiple choice test (I have a whole email course on how to study for exams effectively here!), here are some tactics for you to answer the multiple choice questions well.

Refrain from looking at the answer options when you first read the question

As I mentioned above, most of the time the options in a multiple choice question may intend to ‘trick you’. The options may appear to be the right answer at the first glance. If you look at the option immediately after reading the question without thinking about at it, you may be easily directed to a wrong answer.

Therefore, try anticipating an answer before looking at the options. If you find the right option, then you are done with this question! Hooray!

If you seem to have difficulty in finding an option that aligns with your answer, then we should move on to consider the second method.

Answer by elimination

This method is commonly used for answering MC questions that you are not so sure about. Alternatively, I also recommend using this method to check your answers.

In other words, don’t ever just pick the right answers and not read the other options. 

You may ask why is that the case? Because by reading the other options, you can make sure that you actually pick the correct one. Since there may be options that are very similar, with one being a ‘trick’ answer, it is always better to double-check and make sure you have picked the right one.

The method of elimination means that you should try linking the different options to the question and cross out the ones that are incorrect.

Not sure how you can do it? Here is how:

  • For math questions, try to put the options into the equation and see if it gets the same result as in the question. This can easily be done with the help of a calculator.
  • For fill in the blanks type of multiple choice question, substitute the blank with the option and see if the statement is correct.

The rules of guessing

Now, when you really do not know the answer to the question, the only thing you can rely on is your first instinct and guessing.

Here are few things that may help you guess in a smart way.

For all of the above questions, check each and every option very carefully.

  • Once an option is incorrect, you will know that you only have to pick from the two possibilities (i.e.  the incorrect one and all of the above can be eliminated).
  • If you see two correct answers, then all of the above should be it (but make sure to check the other options too to make sure they are correct as well).

For none of the above question, either one of them is correct, or all of them is incorrect. So you only have to guess between two options.

Usually, the odd answer can be eliminated. Since the test aims at looking at your understanding, the correct answer may the one out of the very similar options. Thus, if there is one or two that aren’t really close with the others, it may not be the correct one.

Make sure to circle the questions that you are not sure about

Sometimes, you may not know an answer when you first see it, and thus you will resort to guessing. But then after doing all the questions, you may get some inspiration from other questions in the paper.

That’s why it is always great to circle the questions that you are uncertain about and go back to them after you have finished the test to review them and see if you can come up with an answer.


To sum everything up…

Definitely study hard for a multiple choice. There is no easy way to get a good grade in it. As mentioned, multiple choice questions place a strong emphasis on understanding the materials, so active learning while studying is extremely important. Constantly question yourself when studying, and clarify any misconceptions you have.

If you are at the stage of preparing for exams, I highly recommend the Free 7-Day Course: How to Study for Exams Effectively for you! It is a course that covers different learning skills and what you should do before exams, and I am sure you will find it helpful!

This post is a part of the Series: Top Tips for Exam and Tests!. For more posts on exam preparation and test-taking, here are some good ones that you should definitely read!


  • Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog – in fact, I love it so much that I decided to nominate you for the Mystery Blogger Award! The “Award” is a Q&A challenge that aims to build community among bloggers; you can read more about it in my blog post here: Thanks for all of your incredible content and for inspiring me to be a better blogger! xo Haley
    • Thank you so much for nominating me! I will do the challenge soon :) P.s. I love your blog too! It makes me so happy that you read mine!

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