In a dog-eat-dog world where students vie for admission into top universities and compete for the privilege of studying their chosen profession, the one thing most likely to hold them back is:
A. lack of money
B. lack of smarts
C. lack of looks
D. a multiple-choice math test
If you chose option D, then you must have read the headline carefully (see strategy #3 below). You must also know that taking a multiple-choice test is an art that must not be underestimated. Many people falsely believe that such tests are easy. After all, the correct answer is in plain sight!
A well-constructed multiple-choice math test, however, can give the illusion of easiness while decimating your GPA before you can say ‘all of the above.’ Fortunately, there are strategies for beating multiple-choice tests. Master these strategies, and you'll be on your way to realizing your career aspirations.
1. Know the test. Knowledge is power so make sure you can answer the following questions. How many questions are there going to be on the test? How long will you have to write the exam? What topics will be covered? How will the questions be marked? What tools, such as calculators and rulers can be used during the test?
2. Practice. There’s no better way to prepare for a math test than to solve a ton of questions similar to the ones that will appear on the test. There are often test banks, review packages, or specialized study materials available online or for purchase that provide a plethora of questions. When you think you’ve done enough, do some more.
3. Read carefully. Before you even attempt a solution, read both the question and each option carefully. Sometimes the options will steer you towards a particular approach. Other times, they will help you to understand what is required in the solution.
4. Pace yourself. Don’t spend a long time on any one question. If you are stuck, make a note of the question and come back to it later.
5. Use your calculator. Many math tests allow the use of scientific or graphing calculators. You can use a calculator to solve equations, run recursive procedures, and test potential solutions.
6. Test each option. You can often deduce the correct answer simply by testing each option against the given conditions. The option that satisfies all conditions is the correct answer.
7. D is usually better than A. In questions which ask you to select the true statement out of four given statements, D is perhaps a better choice than A. After all, test designers want you to read all of the choices before deciding which one is correct. Most people would not read further if the correct statement was the first option.
8. Balance. The answer key for a well-constructed multiple choice test will consist of an approximately equal number of each choice. For example, on a 20-question test, you can expect that five of the answers will be A, five B, five C, and five D. Therefore, if you find that half of your answers are C, it’s probably time to check those answers for errors.
9. Guess. Never leave a multiple-choice question unanswered. Even if you have no idea about the answer, you still have a 25 percent chance of correctly guessing the right one. On the other hand, you have a 100 percent of getting an unanswered question wrong.
10. Check your responses. Reserve time to check your work after you are done. There are often silly mistakes that can be corrected by taking a second look. Review the questions you found difficult. Use a different approach to the problem: Does your answer match the first one? If so, then you likely have the correct answer.