5 Top Tips For Students Dealing With Short Answer or Multiple Choice Exams

Study Advice

5 Top Tips For Students Dealing With Short Answer or Multiple Choice Exams

No need to stress about your university exams โ€“ INOMICS is here to help! (Well, stress a little bit, that's healthy and can serve as motivation, but no need to freak out). Having already dispensed advice on facing down essay exams, this article turns to two other  university exam formats โ€“ short answer questions and multiple choice tests. These kind of exams require a different sort of preparation from essay or oral exams, preparation that the following will take you through.

1. Focus on the details

Unlike in essay exams - where one shouldn't stress about the details but rather focus on the big picture - short essay or multiple choice tests are all about the details. You need to be able to remember the facts which have been taught in the course over the semester, and to be able to explain these facts in a couple of sentences. For this reason, focus your revision on remembering key facts.

2. Use techniques to help you memorise information

If you're having trouble memorising facts and figures, first try writing out the information by hand several times. Often you'll find that just the act of copying the information down several times will be enough to lodge it securely in your head. But if that's not working, and you have a lot of tricky information such as dates or chemical formulae to remember, try flashcards. Take a stack of postcard-sized piece of paper, and write down one fact to be remembered on each sheet. Then either use these cards to test yourself, or put them around your room, or house, so you see them regularly. Do this in the weeks leading up to your big day and remembering should not be a problem.

study advice3. Don't overthink your answers

When it comes to multiple choice exams in particular, the questions can sometimes be written tricky, vague(ish) way. Sometimes you have to select the โ€œone correct answerโ€ from four possible answers, all of which sound at least a little true. In this instance, it may tempting to select multiple answers, or to write information in the margins which explains your choice. Do not do this! Multiple choice tests are often marked automatically by a computer, or by someone without any experience in the area in question. So if you write extra information, it probably won't even get read, and you may even lose marks for not answering the question โ€œcorrectlyโ€.

So how do you cope with an ambiguous question? The best technique to not overthink your answer. If there is one answer that seems obvious, and the other answers are arguably somewhat true, then select the obvious answer and move on. Unless the question says otherwise, always choose one and only one answer in a multiple choice test. Try to imagine what the person who wrote the question is expecting the answer to be, and give that answer.

4. Plan your time

You might think multiple choice are quick to answer, and thus you don't need to plan your time in such an exam. Think again. Sure, the actual writing of the answers can be done very quickly, but you still need time to sit and think about each question before you answer it.

When you first see the exam, take time to quickly skim over it. Count how many questions there are, and how much time you have. Divide your time by the number of questions to see roughly how long you should spend on each question. Also, don't forget to leave 5 to 10 minutes at the end to give your work a final check.

5. Skip over questions which are giving you problems

If there's a question which you don't understand or don't know the answer too, think about skipping over it and coming back to it later. If you don't immediately know the answer, that's okay, no need to panic! Sometimes moving on to other questions will help to jog your memory, or give you context which could help you to answer the question that you were stuck on. You don't want to waste a lot of time on one question, so keep going and then come back to the questions you were struggling with at the end.

Good luck with your exams!