Helping Students Take Multiple Choice Tests
Help students to improve their performance on high stakes tests by teaching them specific strategies for taking multiple choice tests. You can teach students how to approach a test, eliminate choices, and even effectively guess at answers. This week, we offer tips to present to students on taking multiple choice tests.
This Week's Tips
Prepare Practice Tests to Improve Multiple Choice Test Performance (Monday)
Devise test preparation activities that require students to read test questions carefully and thoroughly. Walk students through the process of choosing an answer. Explain that they should read all choices before answering. Remind students to pace themselves if a test is timed by glancing quickly through the test to determine the total number of questions. If possible, they should wear a watch on test day and mark the scheduled finish time on the answer booklet, if permissible.
Develop Answering Strategies with Students (Tuesday)
Help students recognize successful techniques for answering test questions. Demonstrate a “cover-up” strategy by covering the answers and trying to answer a question before looking at the choices. Practice treating each answer choice as a true or false response and selecting the “most true” answer. Another strategy is to rephrase the question as a statement using the answer in the sentence. For example, the student would rephrase the question, “Which of the following is a part of the presidential election process?” using the choices available; “The Dartmouth College is…” or “The Electoral College is part of the presidential election process.” Each student needs to decide which strategies work best for him or her.
Train Students to Eliminate Choices on Difficult Questions (Wednesday)
Teach students strategies for reducing the number of answer choices on test questions. Explain to students that reducing the total number of potentially correct answers on a question increases their odds of success. Discuss how to eliminate choices that could not possibly be correct. Teach students to be aware of the implications of answers that contain superlatives, such as none, never, all, more, always, and only. Students should understand that these terms usually indicate undisputed facts.
Teach Students When to Make Educated Guesses (Thursday)
Teach students how to make educated guesses utilizing other test-taking strategies. Make sure they employ the process of elimination as a first option. This may increase their odds of answering correctly, even if they ultimately must guess on a final answer. If there are five answers, guessing from all choices will produce a correct answer only 20% of the time. If they can reduce the number of possible correct answers to two, their odds increase to 50%. As a last resort, students can look for answers that do not “fit” or seem out of context. Demonstrate the use of word prefixes, suffixes, and roots to make intelligent guesses about unknown terms.
Give Students Final Test-Taking Advice (Friday)
Reassure students prior to test day that they can be prepared. Encourage students to study ahead of time and review in advance to avoid last-minute cramming. They should get a good night’s sleep the night before and be sure to eat breakfast the day of the test. Lastly, suggest that students relax the night before the big test and be confident!