How to Study for a Multiple Choice Exam

8 Steps to Master the Test

How to study for your multiple choice exam
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A multiple choice exam. Everyone knows what one is, right? You simply read a question, then choose the letter of the correct answer from a group of available options. It's pretty simple, right? There aren't too many ways to get this kind of a test wrong? Well, not exactly. Studying for a multiple choice exam is a skill that you can learn, hone, and perfect, as is taking and passing a multiple choice exam.

Not all tests are created equal!

Before you show up to test day unprepared, read the steps to study for a multiple choice exam below and up your odds of getting the score you want.

Step #1: Start Studying The First Day of School. 

That sounds crazy, but it's true. Your exam prep starts on the first day. Nothing beats time and repetition when it comes to learning. The best way to learn anything is to participate in class, take careful notes during lectures, study for your quizzes, and learn as you go. Then, when it's a multiple choice test day, you will just be reviewing the information instead of learning it all for the first time. 

Step #2: Ask for the Multiple Choice Test Content.

Before you begin officially studying for your exam, you have a few questions to ask. You need to ask your teacher or professor what he or she will be putting on the multiple choice exam. Go for questions like these:

  1. Are you providing a study guide? This should be the first question out of your mouth. You will save yourself a ton of time scavenging through your book and old quizzes if your teacher or professor gives you one of these. 
  2. Will vocabulary from this chapter/unit be tested? If so, how? If you memorize all the vocabulary with their definitions, but you can't use the words appropriately, then you may have wasted your time. Many teachers will ask for a textbook definition of a vocabulary word, but there are a bunch of teachers who don't care if you know the definition word for word, as long as you can use it or apply it. 
  1. Will we need to apply the information we've learned or simply memorize it? This is an important question. A simple knowledge-based multiple choice exam, one where you have to know names, dates, and other detailed info, is pretty easy to study for. Just memorize and go. However, if you're going to need to be able to synthesize, apply, or evaluate the information you've learned, that requires a much deeper understanding and more time. 

Step #3: Create a Study Schedule.

I get it. You're really busy. That's why it's even more important for you to create a study schedule for days ahead of test time. You can figure out where you have a few extra hours in the coming weeks prior to your test, rather than cramming minutes before,. To study for a multiple choice exam, start weeks ahead if possible, studying in small increments until you get to test day.

Step #4: Organize Everything From the Unit or Chapter. 

Your teacher has probably already given you much of the test content in your notes, quizzes and former assignments. So, go back through the material. Rewrite your notes or type them up so they're legible. Find the answers to incorrect quiz questions or problems you missed on your assignments.

Organize everything so it's ready to be studied.

Step #5: Set a Timer. 

Do not spend three hours studying for a test in a row. Bad, bad, bad. Your mind will overload, and you'll start daydreaming, doodling, or otherwise disengaging from the material. Instead, set a timer for 45 minutes, study, and take a five-ten minute break when it goes off. Repeat. Set the timer again for 45 minutes, study, and then take a break. Keep following this process, until you're confident in your knowledge.

Step #6: Master The Material. 

Remember that you're going to have choices on this multiple choice exam (hence, the name), so as long as you can differentiate between the right and "kind of" right answers, you're golden. You don't have to recite any information – just recognize correct info.

  1. For facts: Use mnemonic devices like singing a song or drawing pictures to help you memorize factual, detailed information. Use flashcards (either the paper kind or an app) for vocabulary. 
  1. For concepts: Explain the idea out loud to yourself as if you're teaching it to someone who has no idea what you're talking about. Even better? Explain it to a study partner who really doesn't. Write a paragraph about it in language you can understand. Draw a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the concept with an idea that you're really familiar with. 
  2. For anything: If you're bored with how you regularly study, use one of these 20 creative study methods to stay engaged. 

Step #7: Get Someone To Quiz You.

To test your knowledge, choose a study partner to ask you questions from notes, former quizzes and assignments, offering you a few options for you to choose from if you're stuck. The best type of study partner will also ask you to explain your answer to see if you really know what you're talking about rather than just reciting the content from the exam. 

Step #8: Review Multiple Choice Testing Strategies.

This is an important step. Be sure to go over multiple choice testing strategies, so you know which types of answers to avoid on test day. 

How to study for any test