Exam Prep: Memorization Tips for Multiple Choice Questions

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The worst questions on an exam are always the tricky multiple-choice questions. They make you second guess your knowledge, even when you believe that you studied thoroughly enough to know the right answer. Here are some reasonable methods to assist you in improving your memory and effectively studying for these challenging questions.

Begin studying well ahead of the final exam time.

This may sound ridiculously easy or absurd, but it’s the most disregarded step of the memorization process. If you do not familiarize yourself with the information, it will be difficult to retain the topic. For example, if you find yourself cramming your study time into three hours right before the exam, you rely on memorizing certain vocabulary. However, it will not be enough to help you remember anything at all. So, integrate this into your learning process. Begin studying beyond the reasonable amount of time — before the exam — which means, start reviewing your notes after the first day of the course. Even if you are not deeply interested, it’s important to shake that mindset and aim for high grades.

You can learn something new, so take interest even if you find the content boring or dreadful. Start reviewing your notes, the course readings, and write down anything that confuses you or interests you. For some useful resources, visit Exam Preparation.

Get help from others, whether it be a group study session or your professors. The most important goal is to keep up with the course content. Falling behind only leads to cramming and stress. So, grab all of your research and notes, and begin studying. It can be out loud or quietly. But do what you find most effective and make time for productive studying so that you can interpret any deceiving or confusing exam questions. This may take some extra motivation at first, but you’ll get it.

Create multiple-choice questions to practice.

Take examples directly from lectures, tutorials, and textbooks. Jumble these up and create multiple-choice questions with slight variations and nuances from one to another. By doing this, you engrain the knowledge into your head, and every word or number will be easier to memorize. Consider studying with your peers as well — create tiers of multiple-choice questions, ranging from easy to challenging, and exchange your questions. Go into detail for each possible answer. Additionally, change every multiple-choice answer slightly — make it difficult. This will help you with a very precise level of memorization so you do not make similar mistakes on the real exam. If you end up answering the practice questions incorrectly, determine what the correct answer is and research the reasoning why. Refer to the course material and do not be afraid to ask questions.

It’s all about interpretation.

Finally, one of the most important methods for approaching multiple-choice questions is interpretation. On practice questions, you should try to understand what exactly is being asked. Do not skim over any of the multiple-choice questions because you can accidentally misinterpret what is being asked and think you circled the correct choice. Furthermore, watch for certain words, numbers, or decimal points that are thrown in to confuse you. Be cautious of the words “and/or/with/without” and other variations. These alone could throw you right off-track! Whoever created your exam might throw in terms and keywords you’re familiar with, which might catch you off guard, and then jumble up certain details. 

If you begin reviewing content early on during your courses, you set yourself up for success. Be sure to quiz your memory as often as you can, and stay familiar with the content each week. This will be crucial to your success at the University of Toronto.

Published on January 16, 2020

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