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Study Skills: Hints for Specific Types of Tests

The following are general test taking tips. There are no magic formulas, so remember studying and preparing well are always your best bet.

Multiple choice tests

  • Read through the entire test and answer the questions you know.
  • Read each question carefully. Identify key words and rephrase questions into your own words.
  • Some students find it helpful to read the question and try to recall the answer from memory before looking at each of the choices.
  • Make sure you look at all choices before choosing an answer.
  • As you read through the possible choices, mark through the ones you know are wrong. This will save time if you have to come back to the question later.
  • If two choices appear to be equally correct, eliminate the response that appears to be least related to the question being asked.
  • Change answers only if you have a good reason for doing so.

True/false questions

  • If part of a statement is true and part of it is false, the statement is false.
  • Pay close attention to qualifiers such as always, never, only, often, and frequently.


  • Matching sections on exams often test your knowledge of definitions, names, and events.
  • Review the entire section before beginning.
  • Match up those terms you are sure of first. Cross out matches as you use them.

Essay tests

  • Read directions carefully. Ascertain whether or not you must answer all of the questions and if your test time is limited.
  • Read all questions before beginning. If you select questions to answer, choose those for which you are best prepared.
  • Pay attention to key task words in essay questions, such as discuss or define.
  • Write focused, organized answers.
  • If you begin to run out of time and do not have time to write complete sentences, quickly list the information you intended to include in your essay answer. You may gain extra points by letting the professor know what you know.