The Secrets to Successful Multiple Choice Writing

Student struggling with multiple choice exam writing Let’s just acknowledge that right off the bat: multiple choice writing is not a fun process. Five different options that are only minutely different, confusing wording that makes a question seem like a trick, and the fear of spending a disproportionate amount of the allotted exam time answering one or two difficult questions, understandably, keeps people up at night. If you ever feel that you are just not prepared to write a multiple choice exam, there are writing services out there that can ease your pain and take them for you.

Multiple choice exam writing is intimidating

If, however, you want to give a boost to your multiple choice exam writing, and understand how to go about writing the most effective, efficient exam possible, below are the secrets to taking a successful multiple choice exam. These are tips that can be utilized and taken with you far beyond your university education, and which can and should be employed during all future multiple choice examinations.

Preview your test

It is always a good idea to preview your entire multiple choice exam before answering any of the questions. You want to ensure you have every page (and that none of the pages you’ve been given are duplicates), and you want to make sure you understand the instructions before beginning. The people printing out your exams are only human and may inadvertently attach duplicate pages to your exam. You don’t want to realize this halfway through and spend 5 minutes trying to get an exam supervisor’s attention. You also don’t want to spend half your time answering all eight questions on the final page, only to find out, upon rereading the cover page, that you were to choose five of them.

When more than one answer seems correct

It is often the case while multiple choice writing that more than one answer seems to be correct. In fact, guides designed to help instructors and educators formulate effective multiple choice questions (i.e. ones that can reliably test a student’s knowledge of material) advocate creating questions where all of the alternatives are plausible. These plausible, but incorrect alternatives, are meant to serve as distractors which confuse the students who did not meet the designated learning outcomes, and be passed over by those who did.

When you encounter a question where more than one answer seems correct (and you will), ask yourself if the answer you have selected addresses the question in its entirety. Are there any assumptions you had to make in order for the question to be probable, or likely, that seem counterintuitive, or unreasonable? How narrow are the conditions under which the answer could, or might be true? Are they overly narrow? Chances are, if either, or both of these is the case, it is not the correct answer. Another option, and it likely sounds dubious, is to trust your gut instinct. A feeling you have about the validity of an answer may be indicative of subconscious recall, although it is still a poor substitute for actually knowing the correct answer.

Always start with questions you can answer quickly

If there are 60 multiple choice questions and you have two hours to write an exam, theoretically you shouldn’t be spending any more than 2 minutes on any given question. In practice, however, certain questions might take you longer to answer than two minutes, others might take you less. If you find yourself immediately stumped by a question, though, you should definitely mark it with a “?” and come back to it later.

There are two reasons for doing this. The first, and most obvious, is to avoid eating up too much time with one question. The other is that you may end up encountering another question further along in the exam which is similar to the one you cannot answer, and which provides you with clues, or jogs your memory enough to recall something from the course that allows you to better answer it.

Create a study schedule, don’t cram

The best line of attack for multiple choice writing is to prepare in advance. The corollary to this is to avoid cramming. This is true whether you have already extensively covered the material, or
if you’ve understudied. It is easy to spend a couple of hours cramming before an exam, return to some notes, or the textbook 20 minutes before, see something familiar, and feel comforted. But recognizing something is not the same as being able to recall it.

Different areas of your brain are responsible for different kinds of memory, and just because you are able to glance at something and recognize that you’ve looked at it before (even multiple times), doesn’t mean you are going to be able to conjure the material out of nothing when required to do so. If you have studied and absorbed as much as you think you can before a multiple choice exam, cramming is likely only going to stress you out further, and it won’t improve your memory recall. Entering into an examination cool, calm, and collected will be better for your mental health, for your nerves, and may even help your overall performance.

Whether you are new to multiple choice writing, or have been doing it for years, this style of examination is likely to appear throughout your postsecondary career, and likely well into your professional one as well. While often criticized for failing to test dexterity with the material, and merely testing memorization, these tests are here to stay, and knowing how to effectively take them is a vital skill. While your performance will likely come down, by and large, to how well you know the material, and how much information your brain is physically capable of retaining, the methodological tips mentioned above will always come in handy. If you have an upcoming exam that you just can’t prepare for, and would like some assistance, reach out to Homework Help Global and have one of our professional, academic writers give a boost to your multiple choice writing.

References:
(2018). “Tips on Taking Multiple Choice Tests.” Social Psychology Network. Retrieved from: https://www.socialpsychology.org/testtips.htm

Brame, C.J. (2013). “Writing Good Multiple Choice Test Questions.” Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/writing-good-multiple-choice-test-questions/

Stafford, T. (2014). “Memory: Why Cramming for Tests Often Fails.” BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140917-the-worst-way-to-learn

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