Multiple Choice Exams
Multiple-choice exams involve questions with three parts. Firstly, a statement or stem; secondly, the question; and thirdly, a set of possible answers - only one of which is correct, while the others are distracters. The candidate is asked to circle or tick the correct answer to the question.
The night before exams you need to:
In some cases you will be required to mark your responses on the question sheet, while other times you may have a separate answer sheet (PDF, 696KB).
Type of learning required
- Multiple-choice exams usually rely on recognition rather than recall.
- This means that you need to know your subject matter well enough to recognise the right answer when you see it, which is an easier form of memory than having to recall something when given no clue to start with. Click here for an example.
- This doesn't mean that studying for a multiple-choice exam is easy. Because each question is quick to answer, a lot of questions can be asked, meaning a subject can be covered in great breadth.
Study strategies for multiple-choice exams
You need to achieve maximum breadth, but not too much depth.
What to do
- Read all your lecture notes and summarise them. Also summarise relevant chapters from your textbook and/or prescribed readings. Work through past papers if available.
What NOT to do
- Don't do extra reading into one topic area that interests you.
During the exam
- Allocate your time according to how many marks the question is worth. Make a note of which question you should be up to after each 10 minute interval.
- As you read the question, cover up the answers and get your brain to generate an answer (using recall). Then uncover the answer options to see whether your answer is one of the options listed. In this way, you can be more confident of your answer
- If you don't know an answer, circle the question as a reminder to return to it, and go on to the next question since later questions may relate to earlier ones that could prompt your memory.
- If you get stuck: Have a guess, but the answer is not always C!