Many standardized tests contain multiple-choice questions. The best possible answer for a question is listed among other not-so-correct choices. The wrong choices are called distracters. They are called this because they are meant to distract the test-taker from the correct answer. Strategies to pick the best possible answer should be in every middle school student's test toolkit. Finding, using and applying these strategies to even the highest stake tests helps the test-taker to be successful at multiple-choice questions.

Know the Subject Matter

One way to do well on any test, not only multiple-choice tests, is to know the material. Being prepared for middle school classes with pencil, paper and an attitude to learn are important beginning steps. Going to class, taking notes during class and reviewing the material before a test paves the way for success for any test formation.

The Question Comes First

Hide the selection of answers on a multiple-choice test. Read the question with the answers hidden. Formulate an answer before looking at the answers provided. The distracters will try to steer you toward the wrong answer. If you decide on the correct answer before looking at the bank of answers, you won't be misled by the distracters.

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Can't Find the Right Answer

If the formulated answer is not available, dig a little deeper. Read the question again to make sure you understand it. If the question is based on a reading passage available in the test, read the passage again. If there is no reading passage, skip the question for the the time being. Sometimes other questions will help you find the answer. A math question might ask, "Which example shows the commutative property of multiplication?" Another question further into the test might ask, "What number would make the number sentence ___ x 6 = 6 x 4 valid?" This is an example of the commutative property of multiplication. Use this information in the test to answer the previous question.

When All Else Fails

If the answer is not obvious after using these test-taking strategies, it's time to make an educated guess. Avoid choosing answers with the all-or-nothing words of "always" or "never." "B" or "C" is more likely to be the answer than "A" or "D," according to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. "All of the above" is more often the correct answer than "None of the above." Use grammatical clues to find an answer. If the word "an" is used, the answer will begin with a vowel. Choose the answer that makes the most sense, and hope for the best.

About the Author

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.