There are no shortcuts: The best way to perform well on a multiple-choice exam is to prepare in advance with serious study. Would you want to rely on a surgeon who looked for "tricks" to pass medical exams? Certainly not. Nevertheless, there are some strategies that will help you focus properly and identify the key elements of multiple-choice questions so your test scores represent the true state of your knowledge. Using these strategies will help you do well on multiple-choice examinations.

Read the question slowly and underline key words such as and, or, but, not, best and worst. Some of the answers may depend heavily on these words, and if you read too quickly, you may miss the nuance of the question and choose the wrong answer. Watch out for absolute words like "always, never, all, none" because these are often incorrect.

Identify the answer you think is best on your first reading of the answer. Identify this answer temporarily with a small check mark on the test (if paper) or by noting it on a blank piece of paper (if the test is administered electronically).

Read the rejected answers carefully and determine in your mind precisely why they need to be rejected. Look in particular for answers that do not represent the facts correctly, twist a rule inappropriately, or are tangential to the central issue.

Determine which answer is "least worst" if you cannot identify one that is certainly correct. This is done by the process of elimination: draw a small "x" beside each answer you believe is certainly wrong to narrow the choices. Be careful not to read more into the question than what is apparent, and if two answers are opposites, it is likely that one of them is actually the correct response.

Choose "all of the above" if you cannot eliminate any answers.

Choose "none of the above" if you cannot affirm any answers. Be aware that this response is often incorrect, so choose it only as a last resort.

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