I need to be able to do multiple choice exams faster.

In exams with multiple choice questions, there is often not much time for each question, e.g. 1-2 minutes. Here are some tips to help you do multiple choice exam questions more efficiently.

Before the exam:

  • Find out what the exam will cover, and make a plan for your revision as early as possible.
  • Look at some exams from previous years, and become familiar with the style of language used. The library has some past exam papers (see link on the right) and you can also ask your lecturer and/or the office of your department or school.
  • Find out how many questions will be included and how much time you have for each question. Practise doing exam questions from previous years. Time yourself.

During the exam:

  • As you read each question, circle all the key words.
  • Be careful to notice and underline any negative words: e.g. not, never, no, none, lack, fail. Be especially careful of double negatives: e.g. “Which of the following is never present without respiratory symptoms?” (Of course, this means the same as: “Which of the following is always accompanied by respiratory symptoms?”)
  • When you are reading the answers, immediately cross out any which are clearly wrong.
  • Do not spend a long time on a question if the meaning is confusing or you don’t know the answer. Instead, continue with the other questions, and return to the difficult questions at the end.
  • For most exams, a wrong answer is worth the same as no answer: i.e. no marks. In that case, it is better to guess than to leave any question blank, if you run out of time or really aren’t sure of the answer.
  • If you need more time to do your multiple choice exam due to an injury, illness or other disability, you may be able to receive extra time, or other help, by contacting the Disability Services office as soon as possible before the exam (see the link on this page).

For more on this topic, see the links on the right...