Mastering the Art of Answering Multiple-Choice Questions in Board Examinations

Aw Adi | 2023
“The most important advice I can offer when you take your board or licensure examination is to ensure adequate preparation before any examination. Approaching an exam with prior readiness is crucial, since thorough preparation is the key to success in every exam. I always live with the philosophy that the outcome of an exam is determined not at the moment of taking it but rather during the process of preparation.”
Licensure Exam

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) are widely used in examinations, including board exams. These questions assess your knowledge, critical thinking skills, and ability to make well-informed decisions under pressure. Although they may appear intimidating, you can effectively tackle MCQs and achieve a high score with the right approach. Drawing from my experience taking different exams, including those beyond board exams, I have compiled a list of helpful tips to guide you through your examination.

1. Read each Question Carefully:
The first step in approaching any MCQ is to read the question thoroughly. Begin by carefully reading and comprehending the question. Pay attention to keywords and phrases that provide clues about what the question is asking. Underline or highlight important terms to ensure you understand the question's context and requirements. After reading the question and you know the answer just find the answer in the choices and answer it to save time.
2. Analyze the Options and Eliminate unnecessary choices:
The first step in approaching any MCQ is to read the question thoroughly. Begin by carefully reading and comprehending the question. Pay attention to keywords and phrases that provide clues about what the question is asking. Underline or highlight important terms to ensure you understand the question's context and requirements. After reading the question and you know the answer just find the answer in the choices and answer it to save time.

When facing a multiple-choice exam with four options, making an educated guess can yield a 25% chance of selecting the correct answer. However, if you can eliminate one or two options as incorrect, your chances of guessing the answer effectively increase. By eliminating choices you are confident are incorrect, you narrow down the possibilities and improve your odds of selecting the correct response. With fewer options, your likelihood of making an informed guess improves beyond the initial 25% probability. It is important to note that while guessing can be a helpful strategy, it should be employed judiciously and based on logical reasoning or educated assumptions whenever possible. Relying solely on blind guesses may result in lower accuracy and decreased chances of obtaining the correct answers.

3. Prepare like the exam.
Familiarize yourself with the format and style of MCQs by practicing sample questions and previous board examination papers. Regular practice will help you understand the common patterns, improve your speed, and build confidence in your abilities.

To create an effective study environment, simulate the actual conditions you may encounter during the exam. This includes considering factors such as time constraints, the possible examination environment, and even your posture while practicing. It's important to note that each academic discipline may have its own unique approach to constructing questions. For example, the way mathematics questions are formulated in an engineering exam may differ significantly from those found in a mathematics education exam.

4. Manage Time Effectively:
Time management is crucial in board examinations, especially when there are multiple subjects to cover. Assign a specific amount of time to each question, and if you find a question particularly challenging, move on and come back to it later. Prioritize questions that you can answer confidently, and return to the more difficult ones when you have some spare time.
One practical approach you can employ is to prioritize answering questions you are entirely confident about, then gradually proceed to those you are 90% sure of, and so on, until you reach questions where you have yet to learn. This strategy enables you to address the most critical questions that are likely to contribute to your success in passing the exam. It is advisable not to invest excessive Time in questions where you have limited knowledge. Additionally, if the exam requires shading of answers, answering a set of ten or fifteen items before shading is recommended. Avoid shading after each item, as it can consume more Time and increase the risk of making mistakes.

5. Trust Your Initial Instinct:
Often, your initial instinct is the most accurate. While overthinking can lead to confusion, trust your gut feeling when choosing an answer. Avoid second-guessing yourself unless you have a strong reason to change your response.
“Sometimes the best choice is the first one”

6. Review Your Answers:
If time permits, review your answers before submitting your paper. Check for any careless mistakes or overlooked details. Ensure that you have answered every question and reviewed your choices for accuracy.
Approaching multiple-choice questions in board examinations requires knowledge, critical thinking, and efficient decision-making. By employing these strategies, you can enhance your chances of selecting the correct answers and achieving a higher score. Stay calm, trust your abilities, and approach each question systematically and analytically.
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