Test Taking Tips: Objective Tests
Objective tests measure your ability
to remember many facts and figures as well as your understanding of the course materials.
These tests are often designed to make you think independently -
do not count on recognizing the right answer ; instead prepare yourself
for high level critical reasoning and making fine discriminations to determine the
The most common objective test questions
are multiple-choice, true-false, and matching items. Doing well on these questions
requires that you not only master the information but also interpret the test-maker's
intentions. You know you have mastered the information if you can:
- Recall specific terms, facts,
names, and other key words; become proficient in the language of the course.
- Distinguish the ways in which
ideas, facts, theories, or other observations differ from each other AND categorize
ideas, facts, theories or other observations according to the ways these are similar.
- Answer the questions and solve
the problems in the text and create
your own questions or problems.
- HOW TO PREPARE FOR OBJECTIVE
- Review notes and text(s) - list
the major concepts that have been covered
- Highlight those topics that were
stressed. Note why they were stressed.
- Think vocabulary. Every field
of study has its own vocabulary. Identify words/terms used to represent specific
concepts (i.e., the word 'paradigm' in a social science research course) and treat
them as you would a foreign language - make flash cards for
frequent drills, and try to use these words whenever you work with
- Compare and contrast. Sometimes
objective questions can be used to test your ability to distinguish concepts, ideas,
theories, events, facts from each other. Construct diagrams, charts, tables, or
lists to summarize relationships.
- Recite for precision. Review
your retention of the information by recalling it often. Use odd moments, in addition
to 15-20 minute review sessions, to say or write out complete ideas, facts. It is
very important to verbalize the recalled information completely and in a detailed
manner so that you will have a precise idea of your mastery of the material.
- HOW TO TAKE OBJECTIVE TESTS
- General tips:
- Plan your time. Allow more time
for high point value questions; reserve time at the end to review your work, and
- Before starting the test, turn
it over and jot down all the facts and details you are trying to keep current in
- Look the whole test over skimming
the quesitons and developing a general plan for your work. If any immediate thoughts
come to you, jot them down in the margin
- Check with your instructor whether
or not you can write on the test.
- Read the directions very carefully.
Look for time limits, specific answering procedures (i.e., answer 3 out of the 4
questions below), how questions will be graded.
- Start with the section of the
test that will yield the most points, but begin working with the easiest questions
to gain time for the more difficult ones and to warm up.
- Work quickly, check your timing
regularly and adjust your speed when necessary.
- Avoid reading into the question.
When you find yourself thinking along the lines of "this is too easy; there must
be a trick..." mark the question and move on to another. When you begin modifying
the question, the answer you will come up with will be different from the one on
the teacher's key. Interpret questions literally.
- Choose the answer the testmaker
intended - stay within the scope of the course. If you know facts that are beyond
the level of sophistication of the test, 1) Record the intended answer, and 2) point
out the possible ambiguity and make a case for a different answer either in the
margin of the test or during the next regular class.
- Mark key words in every question.
To help find the key works ask yourself WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW?
- Multiple choice questions.
- Probably the most commonly used
objective questions, the multiple choice question, consists of 2 parts:
- The stem - the statement or question.
- The choices - also known as the
distractors. There are usually 3 to 5 options from which you choose the one that
will complete the stem statement or question.
You are to select the correct choice,
the option that completes the thought expressed in the stem. There is a 20% chance
that you will guess the correct choice if there are 5 choices listed. Although multiple
choice questions are are most often used to test your memory of details, facts,
and relationships, they are also used to test your comprehension and your ability
to solve problems. Reasoning ability is a very important skill for doing will on
multiple choice tests.
- Read the stem as if it were an
independaent, free standing statement. Anticipate the phrase that would complete
the thought expressed, then evaluate each
answer choice against your anticipated answer. It is important that you read each
choice, even if the first choice matches the answer you anticipated, because there
may be a better amswer listed.
- Another evaluation technique
is to read the stem together with each answer choice as if it were a true-false
statement. If the answer makes the statement a false one, cross it out. Check all
the choices that complete the stem as a true statement. Try to suspend judgment
about the choices yo think are true until you have read all the choices.
- Beware of words like not, but, except . Mark these words because they
specify the direction and limits of the answer.
- Also watch out for workds like
always, never, and
only . These must be interpreted as meaning al of the time, not just
99% of the time. These choices are frequently incorrect because there are few statements
that have no exceptions (but there are a few).
- If there are two or more options
that could be the correct answer, compare them to each other to determine the differences
between them, and then relate these differences with the stem to deduce which of
the choices is the better one. (Hint: select the option that gives the most complete
- If there is an encompassing answer
choice, for example "all of the above", and you are unable to determine that there
are at least two correct choices, select the encompassing choice.
- Use hints from questions you
know to answer questions you do not.
- Make educated guesses - eliminate
options any way you can.
- True-False Questions.
- Also a popular question type,
the true-flase question has only two options. Your odds are always 50-50 with this
type of item. Typically, testmakers tend to focus on details in true-false questions.
- In order for a statement to be
true, it must be so 100% of the time. This means each part of the question. Thus
you must evaluate the trueness of WHAT,WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW for each statement.
- Beware of words that qualify
and give specific meanings. Words like some, usually,
not , frequently denote true statements, but be careful to interpret
each statement as a special case.
- Another type of word, such as
never , should be interpreted as meaning without exception. If you
can think of an exception, the statement is false.
- Testmakers often mismatch items
or names with inappropriate events or definintions to test your mastery and alertness.
- Matching Questions.
- Matching questions give you some
opportunity for guessing. You must know the information well in that you are presented
with two columns of items for which yo must establish relationships. If only one
match is allowed per item then once items become eliminated, a few of the latter
ones may be guessed.
- The relationship is the crucial
factor in a set of matching items. Usually the relationship is common to all included
items. For example, all the items in Column B define the terms in Column A, or the
individuals named in Column A wrote the books listed in Column B.
- For every match you make, cross
the the items in both columns (unless
there is more than one match possible).
- Begin with the lengthier column
containing the information, evaluating the items in the column with shorter descriptions
for a match. This way you save time by not constantly having to re-read the lengthy
- ANALYZING RETURNED OBJECTIVE
After you get your graded test back,
analyze the questions. If you do not get your test back, visit your professor in
his/her office where the test will be kept on file and ask for your graded answer
sheet to analyze your performance on the test.
- Read all comments and suggestions.
- Loof for the origin of the questions.
Did they come from the notes or the book(s)? From the class or the lab?
- Look at the questions you missed.
Verbalize the rationale for the correct answer - figure out why the correct answer
was better than your answer.
- Did you really know the answer
to a question, but you failed to read it carefully enough to recognize it?
- Were there any areas tested you
failed to prepare for? Why didn't you?
- Did you misread any questions?
- Check the level of difficulty,
or the level of detail of the test questions. Were most of the quesitons over precise
details, or were they over main ideas and principle? Did most of the questions come
straight from the material covered or did the testmaker expect you to be able to
analyze and/or evaluate the information?
- Were you able to finish the test?
- Did you have a difficult time
during the test because you were too anxious to focus on the questions?