How to Study for a Multiple Choice Exam

How to study for your multiple choice exam
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Studying for a multiple choice exam is a skill that you can learn, hone, and perfect. These steps for studying for a multiple choice exam will improve your chances of getting the grade you want.

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. 

Ask for the Multiple Choice Test Content

Before you begin officially studying for your exam, ask your teacher or professor for information about the test content with 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. 
  3. 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. 

Create a Study Schedule

Establish a study schedule at least two weeks before your test day. Using this schedule, you can determine exactly when you have a few extra hours available, then make the most of that study time, rather than cramming minutes before the exam. To study for a multiple choice exam, it's best to start several weeks in advance, studying in short bursts until test day.

Organize Your Chapter Notes

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.

Set a Timer

Don't spend three hours studying for a test in a row. Instead, select a chunk of material to master and set a timer for 45 minutes. Study with focused attention for all 45 minutes, then take a 5-10 minute break when the timer goes off. Once the break is over, repeat: set the timer for another 45 minutes, study, and take a break. Continue this process until you're confident in your knowledge of the material.

Master the Material

You're going to have choices on this multiple choice exam (that's why it's called "multiple choice", after all). As long you can differentiate between the right and "kinda right" answers, you're likely to succeed. Remember, you don't have to recite any details—rather, you'll just need to recognize correct information.

For memorizing facts, use mnemonic devices like singing a song or drawing pictures to help you memorize the information. Use flashcards to memorize vocabulary. 

When studying complex concepts or ideas, explain the idea out loud to yourself as if you're teaching it to someone else. Alternatively, explain the idea to a study partner, or write a paragraph about it in simple language. If you're a visual learner, draw a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the concept with an idea that you already know well.

Ask Someone to Quiz You

To test your knowledge, ask a study partner to quiz you on the material. 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.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "How to Study for a Multiple Choice Exam." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 26). How to Study for a Multiple Choice Exam. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "How to Study for a Multiple Choice Exam." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 28, 2023).