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PSYC 3850
Carol Anne Hendry

While multiple-choice exams may seem challenging, you can prepare yourself by understanding the structure of a multiple-choice test and how to approach these types of exams. Remember, the correct answer is right there in front of you! By carefully analyzing each question and choices offered, you can increase your chances of performing well on each multiple-choice test you take. The Structure of a Multiple-Choice Question Each question consists of just three parts: 1. The first part a multiple-choice problem is the basic section that asks a question, gives and incomplete sentence, or poses a problem that you are expected to solve. 2. 3. The next part of the question is a number of distracting alternatives. These are the incorrect answers that are designed to test your true knowledge of the subject. Some of these alternatives may seem correct, so it is important to know the topic well to avoid selecting an incorrect answer. 4. 5. The final part of a multiple-choice problem is the correct answer to the question or problem that is posed. Techniques For Exams In addition to following good study habits, there are steps you can take during an exam to ensure you choose the correct answer. • Read the question carefully! The most common exam errors occur when students fail to accurately or thoroughly read each question. • • Read all of the choices. Don’t stop reading all of your options simply because you think you’ve already found the correct choice. • • If you are struggling with a question, try reposing each option as a true-or-false question. • • Even if you are unfamiliar with the question, try to use common sense or logic when selecting the best possible answer. • • Take notice of all-or-nothing words or phrases. Examples include words such as "Every," "Always" and "All." These are less likely to be correct than words that offer room for exceptions or alternatives such as "Some," "Many" or "Few." • • Answer questions in the order they come. If you spend a great deal of time skipping around, you are likely to mistakenly leave some questions unanswered. If you are stuck on a question, put a mark off to the side and come back to it when you have answered the rest of the questions. • • Guess! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so never leave any question on a multiple-choice test blank. While no amount of strategy can compensate for poor study habits, understanding the structure of a multiple-choice test and using good test-taking techniques can improve your performance. Combining these techniques with preparation and knowledge of the subject is the best route to academic success. Nothing can replace great study skills, but practicing good test-taking strategies can help improve your performance on psychology exams. These tips are applicable to virtually any topic, so start working on your own personal approach to test-taking in order to determine which techniques work best for you. Whenever you take a test, spend a little time evaluating what you did that worked well and how you might apply those skills again in the future. 1. Start By Looking Over the Test “ ” Image courtesy Hannah Boettcher As soon as you receive the exam, spend at least a couple minutes looking it over. How many questions are there? What type of questions are on the test? In many cases, your psychology tests will be a mix of different questions types. For example, the test might include number of multiple-choice questions, a true-false section and a few essay-style questions. Understanding the format of the test will give you a better idea of how to budget your time. Ads Brain Test™ Developed by Neuroscientists Improve Memory and Attention MA Counselling Psychology Become A Professional Counselor W/ Our Online Graduate Program Now. Emotional Intelligence Workshop training material to teach Emotional Intelligence programs. 2. Pace Yourself “ ” Image courtesy Luis Alves Most tests have some sort of a time requirement, so it is important to answer questions as quickly as possible in order to fully complete the exam. Start by determining how long you have for each question. Generally, you should allow approximately 30 to 60 seconds for each multiple-choice question, depending upon the amount of time you have available for the test. 3. Don't Skip Around “ ” Image courtesy Chris Schmidt/iStockPhoto Some recommend starting with the easiest questions first before going back to finish the difficult questions at the end of the test. While this strategy may work for some students, it also makes it more likely that you will forget to answer skipped questions. Also, you'll lose more time by having to look back over your test and figure out which questions you didn't answer. Instead, try working your way through the exam in the order the questions are presented. If you do find yourself struggling with a particular question, place a clear and obvious mark next to it and then move on to the next question. When you are finished with each section of the test, you can then quickly go back to the marked questions and try to come up with a response. 4. Use the Process of Elimination “ ” Image courtesy Clinton Cardozo Generally, the first few multiple-choice questions will be the easiest, but don't let this lead to overconfidence. The questions will probably become increasingly difficult the further to delve into the exam, which is when you should start employing a psychology test-taking strategy known as the process of elimination. When you encounter a question that you don't immediately know the answer to, start by carefully reading each possible answer. Then start ruling out the options that make the least sense. Even if you are completely baffled by the question, it is often possible to use common sense and your prior knowledge of psychological topics to determine a likely answer. 5. Read Each Question Carefully “ ” Image courtesy Sanja Gjenero It may sound like a bit of very obvious advice, but reading each question carefully is one of the most important test-taking strategies you can use on any psychology test. As you begin to read the question, you might immediately formulate a response before you've even finished reading the question. If you were to write your answer before you fully read the question, you might miss out on important information or you might even give the wrong response. Remember that some multiple-choice tests include more than one answer that is technically correct. Your job is to select the answer that fully answers the question and is the "most correct" out of all the possible options. Tips on Taking Multiple-Choice Tests The following tips are based in part on a document prepared by Steve Houseworth, formerly of the Duke University Sociology Department, and in part on materials developed by Scott Plous of the Wesleyan University Psychology Department. Most of the recommendations are taken from an AATBS manual designed for the psychology licensure exam, from research on testing and test anxiety, and from the experience of both professors. Because the document is lengthy, it is divided into two general sections: 6.Preparing for the Exam 7.Taking the Test Preparing for the Exam Simulate the Required Behavior When studying for an examination, the most effective approach is to closely simulate the behavior you'll ultimately be required to perform. For example, if you're studying for a difficult closed-book exam in Social Psychology, it's important that you practice answering difficult social psychology questions without access to your notes or textbook. Equally important, you need to practice answering questions that someone else has chosen. After all
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