Multiple Choice Deciphered

Questions of this type consist of two parts: the stem (i.e., the “question” portion); and the answer choices (i.e., “a,” “b,” “c,” etc.). The correct answer choice is called the “key,” while the other incorrect choices are called “distractors.”

Although these questions are relatively simple in form since the correct answer is surely already provided, they can be quite deceptive. It is not uncommon to read an answer choice and feel that there is more than one correct answer in the provided choices.  Sometimes, none of the answer choices seem correct. What should you do? Nursing students need not worry, there are some tricks to increasing your chances of choosing the right answer.

1. If the answer choices are short (i.e., one word or a short phrase), then glance over each choice before reading the stem. This will help focus your mind on the relevant part of the question. Reading the choices before the stem will give you an idea of what answer the stem would be looking for.

2. You should read the stem very carefully. Not being able to identify the stem or losing concentration while reading it will cause you to misinterpret the question. Oftentimes, this can point you to an incorrect answer choice since distractors are often almost the right answer to the real question.

3. If you are not sure of the answer, eliminate choices you know are wrong. This may point you to the one correct answer. But even if it doesn’t, each answer choice you can eliminate greatly increases your chances of guessing right.

4. Watch out for words such as “except,” “only,” “always,” “not,” and “but.” These little words can completely change the meaning of the question or of the answer choices, making you choose an incorrect answer if you miss them.

Read part 2 of this Multiple Choice Test Tips article here.

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One Response to Answering Multiple Choice Type Exam Questions: Part 1

  1. […] part 1 and part 2 of the nursing student tips on answering multiple choice […]

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