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Best 5 Strategies to Ace your MCQ Exams | How to Guess MCQ's Correctly in Exam | Multiple Choice Questions Tricks and Tips | 10 tricks for intelligent guessing

What’s the full form of MCQ? Multiple Choice Questions? Nah! I call it Most Confusing Questions.
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Best 5 Strategies to Ace your MCQ Exams | How to Guess MCQ's Correctly in Exam | Multiple Choice Questions Trick and Tips | 10 tricks for intelligent guessing


What’s the full form of MCQ? Multiple Choice Questions? Nah! I call it Most Confusing Questions. Ha-ha! Whatever we may call it, no-one can deny that they could be potentially the most scoring parts of our exams. And with online exams these days, MCQ’s are the new favourite of our teachers. 

So, in today’s Article, I will give you –

  • 5 Perfect Strategies to Ace your MCQ Exams 
  • 10 Tricks for guessing intelligently 
But before that did you know which educational institution developed the first complete MCQ Examination? Given below are four options
  1. St Edwards School, England        
  2. Berlin School of Business and Innovation, Germany
  3. Princeton University, USA
  4. The University of Tokyo, Japan
Give your option as a comment below while I reveal the correct answer at the end 

Strategy Number 1: Plan your Time
Time management is one of the key success factors for any MCQ exams. So, to tackle the continuous panic of losing time here’s the trick. If you have one hour for your MCQ exams – divide that into three parts 

The First 15 minutes
for Skimming the paper. Read all the questions, and as you go along, you will find some small, very easy to solve direct questions. Solve them instantly. This will give you the initial boost of confidence.

The next 30 minutes –
Go through the rest of the questions. If something is very hard, don’t spend more than one minute on it. In her book A Mind for Numbers, Barbara Oakley recommends the “hard start-jump to easy” technique where she says that as soon as you hit a mental roadblock, shift gears and get to work on easier questions. The brain is a powerful organ, it keeps working. Also, you might get clues in some other questions.  

The last 15 minutes –
This is the time to tackle those challenging problems and make some intelligent guesses for some bad toughies and we have 10 super tricks for that later on in this article 

Strategy Number 2Don’t Rush
Read the question twice – pay attention to words like “not”, “always” which completely change the question. Also double check the exact requirements of the question. Underline these words and other important keywords 

If you think the first option is correct, don’t rush to circle the OMR sheet, check once if the last option is ‘all of the above’. Make sure you read all the options carefully before choosing your answer.

Strategy Number 3 Use clues from the question 
This strategy has three sub – parts (ha! ha! just like MCQ’s)

In math questions – If the calculation seems too long winded, one easy method is to put the options back into the questions and check if the equation balances
In English or social studies based questions use grammar as a tool to help you – example this is your question. 

The people of Iceland 
  1. A country located just outside the Arctic Circle 
  2. Are the world’s most avid readers 
  3. Claim to be descendants of the Aztecs 
  4. The capital, Reykjavik, where arms talks have been held
Option (1) is missing the verb, and Option (4) has no connection to “the people of Iceland.” These options can be eliminated, even though both are true, and you are left with options (2) and (3).

Check units and dimensions- these will give you vital clues. So if it is calculation of area for example, rule out options that are not in square units even before you solve the question.

Strategy Number 4: Context-Based Memory
Sometimes we ponder upon MCQ questions with foggy answers in our mind. We try our level best to recall it but just get stuck shaking our head. To our rescue, psychology has a trick called context-based memory. It says that to recall some missing information, try to remember  where you studied that piece of information – was it in a book or online, was it from a tuition teacher or from a friend. Try to remember which corner of the page that graph was. This will trigger your mind to connect the dots to find the missing information. 

It works even if you forgot where you kept your keys. And with that “key” information let’s move to our next strategy.

Strategy Number 5Practice Practice Practice
There is no strategy to crack MCQ’s that can beat this one. Practice everyday, check your answers, go back to the concepts and understand the type of questions being asked.

Now, you are left with the tough questions. And if there is no negative marking for the wrong answers or it is very low, then we can go ahead and make some smart guesses. 

So, here are my 10 tricks for intelligent guessing.

Tip Number 1: Eliminate the options
The general formula of solving MCQ is to increase the probability of the right answer by removing all the possible wrong answers. So, start by removing the options which are clearly wrong. Sometimes you might get lucky and be left with only one option. 

Tip no. 2 Long-Tail Keyword
In the book “Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody” the author William Poundstone, has revealed marvellous findings in his research with huge sets of MCQ data. His book reveals that the option with the longest statement has the highest probability of being right because the test makers have to make sure that the right answer is indisputably right.

Tip Number 3: Avoid the footprint
Poundstone also discovered that two successive questions rarely have the same correct option. Example if you are solving Q 30 and find yourself clueless , then look at the answer to Q 29 or Q31 and don’t select the same letters. They have the least probability of being correct.

Tip Number 4: Golden options
Research has shown that if you don’t know the answer at all for any particular MCQ question and one of the options has either “All of the Above” or “None of the Above” always bet on these options. They have a disproportionately high probability of being correct.

One reminder here is to make sure that either there is no negative marking or it is very low, before you try guessing too many answers.

Tip No. 5 True vs False
In the tug of war between True and False in a True-False question, Poundstone revealed that True is more likely to be the correct answer than False. So if you are guessing wildly then choose True.

Tip no. 6: Avoid North-South Options
Remove extreme values or completely unrelated values. Example you have four options like – 

banyan tree, 
acacia tree, 
koala bear 
bamboo tree
clearly Koala bear would be the wrong answer

Similarly with numbers, remove extreme numbers. The middle-order options are much safer, for example, if the options are 100, 150, 200, and 250 then choosing 150 or 200 could be a safe choice.

Tip No. 7
if two options are similar sounding or if the same keyword appears in two options – chances are that the right answer is one of them. Also, if two options are completely opposite – chances are that the right answer may be one of them

Tip no. 8 –
grammatically incorrect options are most likely wrong

Tip no. 9
Poundstone found that when a question has three options – a, b, c, then there was no clear bias. However, when there were four options – a, b, c, d – b had the highest probability of being right at 28%, followed closely by c at 25%

Tip no. 10
Poundstone found that when a question has five options, the fifth option had the highest probability of being right

But one caution here, avoid guessing more than 10% of the questions and try to practice more, learn more, trust your own instinct and remember that hard work is the shortest path to success. 

Now, coming to our question which we asked in the beginning, and the right answer is Option A, St Edwards School, England. Kudos to those who guessed it right.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for me with a hashtag #zasp4you and Happy Learning

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