Well well well… What to do with multi choice question tests (MCQs)? Why on earth would you be assessed in a format which is not at all applicable to real life? Perhaps it is the ease of marking? Actually, MCQs are fair in lots of ways, there should be no variation between the individuals marking them.
Taking MCQs is as much a learned skill as it is skill based on your knowledge. If anyone you know is really good at taking these tests, ask them for hints. If you know anyone who has access to previous tests, then make sure to get these too.
Keep in mind:
- Examiners put in triple negatives just plain confusing sentences. Unfortunately this means that on occasion your grammar can be tested as much as your understanding of the material.
- We used to go through the test at the beginning of the test going through the questions (without even reading them properly) and look for the ones which say “NOT true” or other such negative statements and underline this. This will mean less chance of you slipping up when you are pressed for time and not reading the question correctly.
- If it says not and not, then these cancel one another out, so mark that down in the question book so you don’t trip over it. e.g.:
- Which of the following is NOT true:
- You will not be able to pass this test
Is the same as
- Which of the following are true?
- You will be able to pass this test.
- Pay attention to the wording of the question, especially the “NOT”, or “Select one of the following true…”
- You are not tested on what your interpretation of what is right, you are tested on the question writer’s thoughts on what is right. Try to put yourself in their shoes, choose the answer that is most right. The right answer should feel right.
- People often recommend for your to never change your answer, this is not an absolute, there is research to support that you are more likely to have the correct answer when you have gone back and changed it, especially if you have just circled the wrong thing on the answer sheet.
- Go with your instincts. If you are not sure of an answer, and why it might be true, but if it sounds good and you thought it made sense upon first glance – stick with it. It’s in your head for a reason, and is better than nothing.
- Cross check. Check the answers you have circled are the answers for the right numbers.
- Do our practice tests, and try to simulate exam conditions when you do them.
Jog your memory
In any examination which has both MCQs and extended length answers, we would recommend doing or at least going through the MCQ section first. This will hopefully help you to jog your memory a bit, and it is inevitable that there is some overlap between the questions in the extended answer section and the MCQs, which may actually help you to answer the extended length questions.
Another reason for going through these first is that they are often very technical and require the sort of attention that you might not have towards the end of an exam. If you answer these while you are still fresh then you can move on to essays after. You will always manage to get a few marks in any essay as long as you put pen to paper. We look at it in terms of efficiency, an MCQ is easy to get full marks in and requires much less effort than getting full marks in an essay. But, if you get any part of the MCQ wrong you will get 0 marks. With an essay you can be talking all kinds of rubbish and the marker will probably give you a few marks nonetheless.