Types of Tests


Objective Tests (Recognition)

Multiple Choice

On a good test, all answers are plausible; nonetheless, if you have 4 choices and can eliminate 2, you have a 50/50 chance. To eliminate choices, consider the following:

  • Is an exact opposite given? Often, if opposites are included, one is the correct response.
  • Is an exact synonym given? If so, eliminate both choices.
  • Does the same key word(s) appear in 2 choices? If so, one of the two is probably correct.

If you draw a complete blank:

  • Read the question separately with each answer; sometimes one answer seems to complete the thought better than the others
  • Try to reword the question and think of an example; then reread the choices.
  • Look for information on the rest of the test that might help you.
  • If one answer is longer than the others, it may be a good guess since instructors often feel the need to make the correct answer especially clear.


Quantitative Tests

Whenever possible, estimate an answer first.

Show ALL of your work; turn it all in.

If your answer does not match a given choice, select the answer that comes closest.

Subjective Tests (Recall)

Short Answer:

  • List, when possible.
  • Don’t volunteer extra information.
  • Look for answers in other sections of the test.

Essay Questions:

Analyze, number, and mark question parts before writing.

  • Underline key words.
  • Note point distribution.
  • Answer the easiest first.

Before writing:

  • Outline main ideas/details of all questions in the margin. Turn this in. This helps you organize, helps you move from one question to another, and gives you confidence.

As you write:

  • Come to the point in the first sentence.
  • Stick to your outline; don’t digress; use specific details.
  • Write a concluding sentence/paragraph.

After you write:

  • Be sure you have answered all parts.
  • Proofread.
  • Use a carrot to insert words.
  • Cross out words/sentences that don’t make sense.
  • Improve spelling/punctuation.

Standardized Tests

  • Know the directions ahead of time.
  • Skip difficult items.
  • Know if there is a penalty for wrong answers.


  • If a statement includes qualifiers (usually, rarely), it is usually true.
  • Try to think of examples that would make the statement false.


  • First, determine what the relationship is between the two columns (terms/definitions; terms/examples)
  • Count choices to see if the columns add up (sometimes items can be used more than once).
  • Try working from both directions.
  • Of course, use leftovers to guess.


  • Although these questions are considered objective, they rely on your recalling, rather than recognizing, the correct answer.
  • Look for grammatical clues.
  • Look over the multiple-choice section for clues.
  • Sit back and think about what you do know about the topic; while thinking, jot down key terms; look at the question again and try to use the information you remember.