Exam tips. Who can't use those, right?

Apr 7, 2009

So, I have an adviser that I go to when I need to figure out which classes to take, and I have an adviser that I go to when I want someone to just keep it real with me...sit in the office and just tell them about what's going on in my life. I know a lot of people aren't huge fans of UNC Academic Services and I don't blame 'em...but it's great when you can find 1 or 2 people in the department that you can count on to help you out. Anywho, my adviser sent me this email a while ago and thought I would share it with you all seeing as though exams are about to come around.

Top 20 Multiple-Choice Exam Tips:

  1. Read the stem and anticipate the answer before you look at the multiple choices. The ‘distracters’ or wrong answers can be great at distracting!
  2. Read all of the stem with every alternative
  3. Eliminate those answers that do not agree ‘grammatically’ with the stem.
  4. Use the process of elimination procedure.
  5. Note qualifying words. “Usually, “often”, “generally”, “may” and “seldom” could indicate a true statement.
  6. Note negatives. If a negative such as “none”, “not”, “never”, or “neither” occurs in the stem, know that the correct alternative must be a fact or absolute and that the other alternatives could be true statements, but not the correct answer.
  7. Note superlatives. Words such as “every, “all”, “none”, “always” and “only” are superlatives that indicate the correct answer must be an undisputed fact. In the social sciences, absolutes are rare.
  8. The longest response is often the correct one.
  9. Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct.
  10. “Funny” responses are usually wrong.
  11. “All of the above” is often a correct response.
  12. “None of the above” is usually an incorrect response. (This is not as reliable as the “all of the above” rule – be careful not to be trapped by double negatives.)
  13. When the choices are numbers (dates, times, etc.), the highest and the lowest are usually incorrect.
  14. If all else fails, choose response (b) or (c). Response (a) is usually least likely to be correct.
  15. Skip the questions that you are unsure of, and return to them at the end.
  16. The most effective approach to studying is to write a multiple choice study guide. (Do this with a study group – everyone writes 12)
  17. Don’t ‘read into’ the questions – take every question at face value.
  18. The Changing Answer Myth….If you have a good reason to change your answer – change it – otherwise leave it alone.
  19. Multiple choice exams require greater familiarity with details such as specific dates, names and vocabulary. Study early and make lists and tables.
  20. If, after your best effort, you cannot decide between two answers, choose the one that ‘feels’ correct. Feelings are frequently accessible even when recall is poor.


Don't watch me, w-w-watch my feet....