Go ahead that since Psychology and Mind we don’t want to promote laziness. The best way to pass an exam, whether it’s a test or not, is to study seriously, learn the lesson well, take the exam and enjoy answering. It is always a good feeling to notice how all the effort invested in studying a subject materializes in a good grade.
However, you will have noticed that there are people who are very good at multiple choice tests and others who get shaky when faced with such a test. Tests have the particularity that are usually more favourable to those who have good intuition . On the other hand, people who tend to get nervous during the tests often get lower than expected scores. This is despite the fact that there is no difference in the knowledge they have acquired.
Why do some people love test exams and others hate them?
The key, apart from each person’s more or less developed intuition, lies in some tricks that some people know and which allow them to be more effective in multiple choice examinations. These tricks are not only part of the resource repertoire of the smart student but also have a scientific basis .
In fact, it was the writer William Poundstone with his book Rock Breaks Scissors, A practical guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody (“Rock Breaking Scissors: A practical guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody”) who detected some important trends that teachers make when they prepare the so-called t-tests t .
Once we know these tricks (based on the heuristics and other psychological trends about how teachers write tests and quizzes) we can say that there are a number of tips that can help you decisively to pass these multiple choice tests… even if you haven’t been able to study enough!
1. Suspicion of categorical responses
As a rule, answers in multiple choice tests that include words like “never”, “always”, “all” and “none” are usually wrong choices . Why? Well, because normally there may be some exception to the rule that invalidates the categorical statement. The teacher will rarely take a risk with a correct choice that leaves so little room for manoeuvre.
But beware: answer choices containing the expressions “none of the above”, “all of the above are correct”… are the correct option in 52% of cases . If you don’t have any more elements to decide on because you don’t know completely what the statement is about, you should opt for this type of answer, as it gives you a much better chance of getting it right than if you answer randomly. It’s not life insurance, but the statistics will be in your favor.
2. The exam as a whole can give you answers to specific questions
It is important that you read the entire test from beginning to end before answering any questions. The reason: there are probably “hidden” (or not so hidden) answers in other questions of the exam. Poundstone found that it is quite common for answer choices to appear in several different questions throughout the exam .
In fact, a well-developed examination by teachers should not have this fatal error. In other words, the fact that there are hidden or deductible answers through the writing of the questions is a serious flaw in the writing of the exam by the teacher in question.In a pure exercise of logic, you can solve several questions thanks to the information provided by the rest of the exam, taking advantage of these slips sometimes made by the people who design the exam.
3. Longer answers are usually correct
Generally speaking, you should note that the longer answers are usually the correct choices . This is because “teachers creating the exam must ensure that the correct answers are indisputably correct . Usually, this requires a longer and more rigorous enunciation”, explains the author of the research. It is clear, isn’t it?
So, you know: if you don’t have the slightest idea what the right answer is and there’s an option that stands out because of its length … that’s the one with the most ballots to be right.
4. Inconsistent answers are often incorrect
Some multiple choice tests are generated by computer programs that generate some answers automatically, and therefore randomly and without following any kind of logical pattern . These answers are usually very inconsistent with the others, and are obviously wrong choices.
When you detect this type of inconsistent answer, not only will you have a better chance of getting the question right (since you will have discarded one of the answer options), but you will also be aware that, throughout the exam, there may be more automatically generated and therefore incorrect answer options . Make the most of it.
5. The tests are for cold minds
If you are one of those people who gets nervous during tests , you must change this bad dynamic. The more relaxed and lucid you are while answering the test questions, the more likely it is that you will be able to use all your resources (knowledge and tricks) to succeed in the test.
About this, I recommend you read this article :
“5 tricks to avoid nerves before (and during) an exam”