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Techniques for Answering Multiple-choice Questions

By Patrick Lashmar October 19, 2015

Students need many opportunities to respond to text using an appropriate balance of multiple-choice, short answer, and longer answer questions. For multiple-choice responses, students should attempt to answer all the questions for each text. Some questions may require answers that can be repeated directly from the text, while others may require students to draw their own conclusions about the information provided. Below are some basic guidelines for responding to multiple-choice questions.

  • Be sure to read any instructions carefully before answering
  • Read the entire question, including all answer choices, before choosing an answer
  • Determine what the question is asking by identifying key words in the question
  • Refer back to the text to ensure that you pick the correct answer
  • If more than one choice seems to answer the questions to a certain degree, choose the one which seems to be most correct
  • Beware of “distractors,” incorrect answers designed to lead you away from the correct answer
  • If you are asked to give the “best meaning” of a word “as used in” the selection, refer to the context in which the word appears to find the answer
  • Use the “process of elimination” method to select the correct answer; rule out the answers that you know cannot be correct before marking your answer on the answer sheet
  • If you have no idea what the correct answer is, make an “educated guess”:
    • If two of the options are very similar except for one or two words, one of these options is usually the correct answer
    • If two of the options mean the same thing, both options are probably wrong
    • An option that is longer and more specific than the others is often correct
    • If all else fails, answers b or c are more likely to be correct than a or d

To learn how to teach students how to respond to multiple choice questions at a grade-specific level, explore the links below:

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