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Helping Kids With Multiple Choice Questions

by Cynthia Measom

Reading carefully, pacing yourself and refusing to give into panic are all helpful pieces of advice for a child learning to answer multiple-choice questions. However, practice makes perfect: Answering as many multiple-choice questions as possible will help your child get the hang of choosing the right answer. Incorporate some tips into your training sessions to give your child an advantage when taking multiple-choice tests.

Elimination Strategy

Aside from knowing the answer, students don't have a sure-fire way to answer a multiple-choice question. You can teach your child to weed out the wrong answers to improve his chances of choosing the correct one. In questions that do not have a definitive true or false answer, it’s better to eliminate the choices that are known to be false. Answers that are false include those that seem foolish or those that are unfamiliar or seem out of place -- also known as distracters. At the end of this process, if there is more than one alternative left, place check-marks on each of the two possible answers and revisit them at the end of the test. It's possible that your child might gather helpful clues or information from other questions on the test that can help him answer those questions that pose a problem for him, according to a web page on the website of Roane State Community College in Tennessee.

Identify Look-Alikes

Identifying answers that are the same except for one or two words is helpful when answering multiple-choice questions. Look-alikes in the same question usually indicate either both choices are wrong or that one of them is the right answer. The former circumstance happens when two choices are synonyms of each other, and there is no “both a and b” option in the choices. This means there can only be one answer, and thus those two choices are immediately wrong. However, when two options look similar but have one word that is different, the answer is between them. Look closely at the differing wording and ascertain which one is correct answer.

Pick the Truest Answer

In questions in which all choices look to be true, it’s best to choose the “truest" answer or the answer that appears to be the most true. Look at the options in each multiple-choice question and label each one as "true" or "false." Immediately eliminate the false answers because you are seeking a true answer. Among all the true answers, pick the one that is true all of the time or most of the time as opposed to those that are true only some of the time. A helpful strategy is to rephrase the question as a statement for each of the answer choices. Incorporate each answer choice in each statement. When the question and answer choices are phrased as statements, it might be easier for your child to decide which one sounds most true.

Other Helpful Tips

Train your child to make an educated guess by reading the question first, before looking at the answers. Tell him to cover the answer choices with his hand and read the question. Then, with the answers still covered, try to answer the question. Circling key words in the question can help kids determine what the question is asking and help them arrive more quickly at the right answer. For example, your child can quickly eliminate the answer "all of the above" if the question includes key words such as "chief reason" or "main factor," which indicate that only one answer is correct, according to the Roane State Community College website.

Helpful Hints

Certain characteristics of multiple-choice questions can help you identify the correct answer. Foolish options are usually incorrect. Also, “all of the above” choices are often right if more than one choice is correct. Longer options are also frequently the correct answer, because the test author had to include all relevant information in the answer to make it accurate. In questions with numerals as answers, those in the middle-range are usually the right choice. Eliminate the highest number and the lowest number. According to Monte W. Davenport on his website "Flexiture for ADHD and Executive Functions," test writers often include one number below and one number above the correct answer.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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