End-of-Course Assessments, state reading assessments, and even the SAT and ACT reading portion all include a multiple-choice portion on the exam. Here’s a simple test-taking tip that might help some of your students.

Explain that test writers create four answers for most multiple-choice questions. In addition to the one correct answer, they generate two “distractor” answers that aren’t even close and one almost-but-not-quite answer.

Then review the question-answering process from the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Compare your students to the contestants on the game show. Recall that on the game show a contestant can apply a 50:50 lifeline to any question and immediately remove two of the four answers. Left with only two possible choices, the contestant now has a 50:50 chance of selecting the right answer.

Apply this same premise to test taking. Encourage your students to immediately remove two of the four choices. This helps minimize the anxieties students sometimes feel. They are only debating between two answers, rather than four.

Then teach students to identify which one answer makes the most sense. When they think they’ve made their decision, have them question themselves once more…. Is this my final answer? Encourage them to pause and confirm that they are satisfied with their choice. Have them mark it and move on to the next question.

If students heard Apply the 50:50 and Is this your final answer in their heads when taking the state assessments, they are more apt to slow down, be more thoughtful, and do better on multiple-choice tests.

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