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Multiple-choice questions

Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are a type of assessment where you are asked to choose the correct or most appropriate answer. MCQs come in different forms:

  • true/false questions
  • matching questions
  • choosing from a list

An MCQ is composed of a question (stem) and a set of choices as illustrated below.

Preparation for MCQs

You need to be familiar with a broad range of knowledge and its application or implications.

  • Begin studying early because MCQs usually focus on assessing your comprehension of detailed aspects of the course. Your short-term memory will not be so helpful.
  • Read the course description of what will be covered in the MCQs.
  • Attempt any past or example MCQs under similar timing restrictions to get a sense of what the MCQs would look like in the exam.
  • Do not try to memorise the past questions. Instead, it is a good idea to revise with friends and colleagues to improve your comprehension of the topics.

When you are doing MCQs

  • Answer the questions you feel confident with first then come back to the others.
  • Eliminate answers that are obviously incorrect, and then focus on the remaining choices.
  • Deconstruct the question by underlining the topic words, the task words and the limit words.
  • Watch for negatives and double negatives (e.g. not uncommon, not infrequently – both mean often).
  • Do not read the potential answers immediately. Read the question and come up with the answer first, then read the options to see if it is listed.
  • Complete any calculations or working prior to looking for the answer in the options provided. Don’t work backwards from the list of answers.
  • Do not leave any question unanswered unless there is a penalty for guessing the wrong answer.

Additional Resources

Watch this video for tips on doing MCQs.

Read this short guide to MCQs and short answer exam questions.


Becker, L (2010). 14 days to exam success: Pocket study skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Tips on Taking Multiple choice exams (n.d.). Retrieved from