Best Way to Answer Multiple-Choice Questions!December 10th, 2019
How to Answer MCQs
No matter what type of MCQ you have, the strategies are all the same. The police written exam is packed with MCQs, or multiple-choice questions. Far from having no strategy, there are many ways to effectively answer each question. Here, we review the best way to answer multiple-choice questions.
Multiple-choice questions are often designed with a specific format in mind.
For example, for the police test there are 4 possible answers; one of which is correct. However, that doesn’t mean you only have a 25% chance of selecting the right answer.
Far from it, you can massively increase the odds in your favor.
The best way to do this is by understanding how questions are written.
Often, the format is as follows:
- One clearly correct answer
- One obviously incorrect answer
- Two answers whose probability of being right falls in between
By applying yourself to each question, you can manipulate the odds. At the outset, all you need to do is identify the “most clearly incorrect answer”. This type of answer isn’t “sort of like the correct answer”, but clearly incorrect.
Instead, it’s often way out there – a complete and obvious outlier and, with enough effort, you can quickly identify this answer and eliminate it from all possible choices.
Eliminating that answer means that the odds of guessing the correct answer have risen from 25% to 33%. All you need to do now is identify just one of those “middle of the road” answers. One will be more incorrect than the other and, as with our strategy above, you merely need to identify the most unlikely answer out of the three.
Implement the following strategies to increase those odds yet further.
Trust Gut Instinct
Sometimes, with enough digging into the question, the ghost of an answer becomes more and more apparent. You need to take a step back from the question and ask yourself: “does that answer seem plausible?”.
For instance, if it’s a police math question that talks about speed, you can perhaps think about speeds as if it were real life. Compare those speeds to time and distance and ask yourself, “Which of these answers, if I were the driver in the vehicle, would be the most likely outcome?”. The same principle applies to pretty much any MCQ for any exam.
Often, it comes down to intuition. You need to trust your instinct.
Digging into the question and trying to work out the problem is, of course, your most important objective. But, you may not know the answer to every problem. Statistically, you are likely to come across a handful of problems that you just cannot work out – no matter how hard you try. That’s where this strategy comes in.
Bear this wider strategy in mind as we delve into some deeper tips on how to analyze questions, how to manage time, and how to interpret how questions are asked.
Getting Back to Basics
Clearly, one of the best ways to answer multiple-choice questions is by knowing what the question is asking you to do in the first place.
You would be surprised at just how many people do not read the question properly. They often interpret the question in ways they want it to mean rather than what is being asked. You should read each question at least twice.
Furthermore, try to avoid rushing through any MCQ question.
You are given a set amount of time for the exam. Use this time to your advantage. Time yourself, and make sure you apply approximately the same amount of time to each question.
Leave some time toward the end of the exam to review any answers you are unsure of or questions that you may have skipped. Never spend more time than you need to on one question. There may be many more questions down the path that you can get right, but if you end up rushing these questions, you may end up getting more wrong.
Time management is essential.
For these reasons, you should never leave an exam hall early, even if you have answered all the questions. You may reconsider some points, or perhaps you may identify some incorrect answers in your review. Never assume you know more than you think you do.
Keep Standards Fine-Tuned
Earlier, we talked about the need to read each question twice.
It’s equally important that you read each answer twice. Avoid the common mistake of rapidly choosing the first “correct” answer you believe to be true. Sometimes questions are written in an intentionally tricky language, meaning you may end up tripping yourself up.
Again, it’s about staying calm, keeping composure, and reading questions/answers in a reasoned and thought-through manner, and not in a rushed, haphazard manner that compromises your overall exam result. This is the best way to answer multiple-choice questions without generating far more mistakes than you need to.
Next, keep on eye on how the question is asked.
There are some keywords in the English language that you must monitor. These are the words that should generate alarm bells when you see them in questions; words that immediately transform the meaning of a sentence. These words include:
These words can transform the meaning of a sentence. If you rush through the test, you may skip these essential words and misunderstand what the test question is asking you to do.
Don’t do it.
Avoid this mistake by consciously making the effort to take your time and to digest each question when and as you see it.
What the Statistics Say
Statistics matter, too.
Studies have been done which show that there are patterns of behavior in MCQ question sets.
- Answers “All of the above” and “None of the above” are correct over half of the time – 52%.
- Correct answers rarely repeat. For instance, if you know that the answer to Question 1 is (a) and the answer to Question 3 is (c), then the answer to Question 2 is statistically more likely to be (b) or (d).
- Longer answers are more likely to be right than shorter answers. This is because question setters must ensure that the correct answer is 100% correct, and this often involves adding more words than you need, compared to an incorrect answer.
Of course, these are statistics.
Always go with evidence and what you believe to be the correct answer. However, if all else fails, then an educated guess is the next best thing. Use these tips to your advantage during the police officer exam or any other MCQ test you may encounter in the future.
Here, we’ve reviewed the best way to answer multiple-choice questions. We can summarize these top 10 MCQ test-taking tips as follows:
- Always read questions twice. Know what the question is asking you.
- Always read each answer twice. Know the differences between each.
- Always eliminate the most incorrect answer. There is always one.
- Never guess. Always provide an educated guess in the worst cases.
- Never rush through the exam. Allow the same time for each question.
- Allow time for review. Enough time to review all the answers given.
- Never leave the exam hall early. Take advantage of the time allotted.
- Trust your instinct. Common sense can go a long, long way.
- Stay calm throughout the exam. You know far more than you think.
- Apply common sense. Does your answer make sense for what’s asked?
With these top MCQ strategies pocketed away, there is no reason why you cannot ace the police officer exam or any other MCQ test for that matter. After all, the same principles apply.
All you need to do is implement them. Now, it’s up to you.
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