3 Types of Exam Question and How to Answer Them
Once you’re ready to sit your exams, you’re likely to be faced with multiple-choice, short-answer and written response tests. Here, we look at some strategies for dealing with each type of question, so you’re ready to take on the various challenges.
These are designed to test candidates’ knowledge in a specific area. You’ll need to work through them methodically, and – while it may sound obvious – thoroughly understanding each question first is vital.
Here are some other tips for dealing with this sort of question:
- Allow some time at the end to have another go at any questions you couldn’t answer initially, and to check you’re happy with the answers you’ve given.
- Read each question before even looking at the supplied answers.
- Answer the questions you are confident you know the answers to first.
- Where necessary, use a process of elimination to rule out the answers you know are incorrect.
- Statistically, you are unlikely to get three consecutive identical answers – e.g. three successive A’s – and this may help inform some of your responses.
- Read every answer option, even if you think you know the correct one immediately.
- Do not leave any questions unanswered – if you aren’t sure, at least make an educated guess.
- Don’t spend too long on any one question. With multiple-choice tests, that’s particularly important.
Clearly, these are open-ended questions in response to which you need to create an answer, and they’re used to assess basic knowledge and understanding of a topic. Your application of knowledge will be assessed in greater depth elsewhere. Short answers can actually be a great way to pick up marks relatively quickly and easily.
Again, there are particular ways of completing these answers to your best advantage.
There is no set structure to responses, and you may want to answer in bullet form. But obviously the clue is in the name – short answers – and you really do need to keep your responses concise and to the point, while still providing a thorough answer that shows your grasp of the subject matter.
As with all exam questions, plan your time and allocate it according to the marks awarded. You probably want to stick to a strong introductory sentence, before adding an example or two plus a sentence at the end to create a logical conclusion.
Other Written Responses
In the case of the other exam questions you’ll be doing, here are a few tips that work every time:
- Get the easy questions out of the way before returning to the tougher ones.
- The number of marks allocated should provide a clue as to how long to spend on each question, how many bullet points to provide in your response and so on.
- Think carefully about what the examiner is looking for before putting pen to paper.
- Don’t spend too much time on any single question. If you’ve used up the time you can sensibly spend, move on to the next question and try to come back to the incomplete one if you have time after you’re completed the other questions.
- Again, it may sound obvious, but as you read through your work at the end, always ask yourself whether you have really answered the question that has been set.
Finally, of course, thorough preparation and judicious use of past exam papers will always stand you in good stead, ensuring that you understand the topic in detail and are familiar with the way the CII tends to word questions. Good luck!