Strategies for Taking Multiple-Choice Tests
Many certification organizations have adopted sophisticated methods of evaluating candidates such as essays and performance-based assessments, largely because the content has gotten deeper, and program directors want reliable and secure means of determining one’s level of skill in a technical area. Yet, most continue to rely on that old mainstay of examination: the multiple-choice test.
Although this kind of exam might not be as advanced as other testing techniques, it’s not all that easy to pass. Participants still have to invest a great deal of time and energy to do well on a multiple-choice test. This studying process should involve reading lots of text and memorizing key words and phrases, as well as understanding the basic concepts behind them.
When test day finally rolls around, keep the following multiple-choice strategies in mind and you should do just fine:
- Remember: There might be more than one answer. IT certification exams use questions that have multiple answers to a much greater extent than multiple-choice tests in other fields of study. Be sure to read each question carefully to see whether it requires more than one response. You can be penalized if you don’t include all the answers, even if you select one of the right ones.
- Beware of “All of the above” and “None of the above.” These answers are often very enticing, especially on questions test takers aren’t too sure about. Don’t fall into the trap, though — any time you see these options, thoroughly examine the other answers to see if either all or none of them fit into the parameters the question establishes. If even one of them doesn’t work, you can safely eliminate the “all” or “none” choice.
- Denote important words in the question. Although question lengths will vary greatly, the items on the test usually will have a handful of words that indicate what needs to be answered. Find the key nouns and verbs in the question, then underline, circle or somehow indicate them. Then, look over the answers and figure out which one best meets the conditions established by the question.
- Skip questions you aren’t sure about. If you get stuck on a question and can’t come up with a satisfactory answer after a couple of minutes of contemplation, you can skip over it and proceed to the next. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it allows you to maximize your time by focusing on what you know, which is important because you’ll probably be on the clock as you take the test. Secondly, other questions might contain information that helps further explain the one you got hung up on, allowing you to go back and answer it with more confidence.
- Know what the policy is for guessing. On some tests, a wrong answer is just a wrong answer, whereas on others, an incorrect response actually can count against you. Generally speaking, you always should guess on every question when there’s no penalty to do so, but not on tests for which you aren’t very sure of the answers, and wrong ones actually bring down your score.