Hey guys! It’s time for the third tip in our series, How to: study”. In this post, we’ll be discussing a testing tip.
I often get asked, how do you do so well on English multiple choice questions? How did you ace that PSAT reading section, or that AP English reading section? Well, in this post I’ll discuss how to take a reading multiple choice test, from personal strategies to those from studies.
English teachers always say, “read more books and you’ll do better on tests”. That’s definitely not always true. Rarely do I truly read in depth. And I know as teenagers, we rarely annotate unless our teachers require us to do so. So, while reading for pleasure isn’t helpful, reading in depth can. But it’s not THAT useful. While I do annotate my books for school, I NEVER annotate the passage in a multiple choice test. Why? Because you waste time. Instead, I gather a basic understanding from a quick skim of the passage and begin to tackle the question. Once I have understood what the question is asking, then only do I go back to the reading passage.
Think about it this way. If you don’t know what the questions even are, half of the time you are trying to understand something in the passage that WON’T even tested on. And that’s less time you can use for other questions.
After you’ve done that, and have returned back to the questions, it’s time ANALYZE the question. What is the question asking? Purpose? Definition? Your response should correspond to what the question is asking. Once you know that, move on to the answer choices themselves. Those answer choices provide an absolute wealth of information. Think about it. Those answers that are correct MUST correlate with what the passage is saying. Don’t interpret. Go with exactly what the text is saying. If you truly can’t find the answer, then approach the answers in a different. Cross out those that CONTRADICT what the author is saying. Through that, you can usually cut down to one or two answers remaining. And that is where my trick works it’s magic.
There’s one way you could answer it. Guess. But instead, there’s an approach that is much better.
- Check every single part of the answer. Make sure that all parts are correct, and are specifically addressed in the passage. Any slightly variance is usually counted as incorrect. With that being said, make sure you look specifically between the passage and answer to match up each PART of the question.
- Test creators have this weird habit and try to make their answer choices sound really deep. So, when you have compared the passage to the answer choices and are still stuck, guess, but not just randomly. Choose the one that sounds the best. Choose the one that your English teacher would think is the most profound. Now, I know you are looking at me with disbelief. And yes, I’ll admit that this doesn’t always work. But nine times out of ten, the best sounding answer is the right answer. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t a test maker want to make the answer sound the best? If it sounds deep and sophisticated, it makes the reader think. And that’s the goal of the test maker. Now, don’t just go choosing an answer because it sounds the best. But when you are stuck between two, choose the one that sounds like something your English might say.
- Furthermore, when you guess, guess the answer choices that is more specific. While answer choices that are broad are true, they don’t specifically tackle what the question is asking. Those answers that are specific tend to directly address what the question is asking. Not only that, these questions are usually those that are mentioned in the text.
Yes, guessing sometimes doesn’t work out. But rather receiving a 50/50 for a question, why not have a 80/20 chance to get it right? With these tips, you’ll be able to increase your test scores. The more you practice with these tips, the better you’ll become at distinguishing a “good” sounding answer and a “bland” one.