Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

WAC/Health Sciences

Tips on How to Take Multiple Choice Exams

Some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Read each question carefully.
  • Before looking at the choices, try guessing what the answer is.  Your first instinct is often the best.  If one of the available answers matches your “guess,” that is probably the correct answer to the question.
  • If you are unsure about an answer, work backwards and eliminate all the choices that can’t be correct.
  • Beware of distractors, which are answers listed on a multiple choice test designed to distract you from the correct answer.  For example, if you don’t remember ever seeing a term used in one of the answers listed, that is probably a distractor.
  • If you are still uncertain after looking at a question for a few seconds, move on.  Time is always a factor when taking an exam.  And remember, sometimes clues about the question you are struggling with will be given in a different problem.
  • Never leave a multiple choice question blank.  By making an educated guess, you have, usually, at least a 20% chance of getting the question right.

Techniques to use before the exam:

  1. Before Class
  2. In Class
  3. After Class

Techniques to use during the exam:

  1. Break each question up into its three main parts 
  2. Identify the four critical elements in a test question
  3. After breaking the question up into its parts, eliminate all options that obviously do not work.

Some things to keep in mind (if all else fails...):