No matter how hard you studied and how prepared you feel, there are times during a test when you just have to wing it. It’s a time when there’s nothing else left to do but guess and this article deals specifically with that kind of a sticky situation. Here are some clever MCQ hacks for you. PLEASE NOTE: This does not mean you are not supposed to study for your exams. These exist just for your information and to be used in extreme cases.
The Golden Rule of Guessing:
This is the most important of all the MCQ hacks: abolish the wrong options first. They help you to narrow the question to at least three or, if you are lucky, to two options. Every MCQ has an option which basically screams “Of course I’m not right”. Always eliminate the obviously wrong choices first – they help through all the different types of problems there are. For example, if an option is “All” and you know one of the options to be wrong , bingo! You now have to choose from two options.
This is an important life hack too. When confused or overburdened by choices, always remove the ones that you absolutely don’t want. A senior used this to sort out his career. He never wanted to go for a MBA so he eliminated that. He didn’t like corporate jobs. So that was gone too. The options left in front of him were: PhD or IAS. That made his life easier.
Questions with options like “All of these”/ “None of these”:
‘None’ and ‘All’ options are rarely ever the answers to a given question. But here’s the thing: now that paper setters know that students will mostly avoid answering the question with these options, they sometimes do set questions with such answers. To be absolutely sure you must either completely work the question out, or simply try out and check each of the other options – whether they are compatible with each other, whether they are compatible with the question and so on. For instance, if the question goes “The root of this cubic equation is…”, it would be a good idea to simply substitute the options one by one. As it turns out, mostly the answer to such a question would be d) All of these.
Avoid the extremes if the answer is number-based:
If the options are 2, 345, 5 and -74, you can be pretty sure that 345 and -74 are not the answers. The answers are generally between numbers that are close or confusing. JEE checks your alertness and smartness. It will give you options like 1441, 1414, 1144 if the answer is 4141 just to test your alertness. Many students find the right answer but while marking it, they mistakenly mark the wrong one. And then they claim to have made a silly mistake. You didn’t make a silly mistake, my friend, you fell for question paper setter’s trick.
Check the dimensions:
This is by far the most powerful MCQ hacks. Be smart when the paper is trying to fool you. If a question asks for ‘volume’ the answer obviously cannot have the dimensions of ‘surface area’. It can be extended beyond the realm of physics too – a mathematical question with alphabet constants like a, b and c can be thought of as a physics based question. For example, an integral involving semi major and minor axes of an ellipse a and b can simply be thought of as an integral involving two things with the dimensions of length. Paralleling the mathematical integral with the now physics-based integral, you can work out what the dimension the answer should have and compare the options.
When Two Choices Have Words That Sound Similar, Pay Close Attention To Them:
If two of the choices on the test are nearly identical in terms of spelling, one of them is probably the right answer. Paper setters like to throw two similar options at you in an attempt to trip you up. If you’re guessing, this usually gives you a 50/50 shot.
When Two Choices Are Complete Opposites, One of Them is Probably Right:
If two of your options are exact opposites, then there’s a good chance that one of them is the correct answer. It’s a trick used to throw students off, and to make sure that they actually know the material.
For instance, if the options go
a) 0 is neither a real number nor an imaginary one
b) 0 is both a real number and an imaginary one
c) 0 is a real number
d) none of the above
one of a) and b) is bound to be correct.
Sacrifice a Question:
You might find yourself in a position where there are two questions with opposing answers. In situations like this, it can be a good idea to answer the questions so that you’re guaranteed to get at least one of them right.
Don’t read too deep into the Questions:
When you really don’t know the answer to a question, it’s easy to over-analyze. You might wonder if it’s a trick question or if there’s some kind of deeper meaning. Most of the time the question means exactly what it says and you should take it at face value. If you’re already confused, there’s no point in making things even more complicated for yourself.
None of these methods or tips work 100 percent of the time (after all, you’re guessing). The point of MCQ hacks is to narrow down your options and come up with the best possible guess. Also, remember that there are no patterns in an OMR sheet. The fact that three ‘b’s came in a row before the question you blanked out at does NOT imply that the answer to your mystery question would also be ‘b’.
The best approach, though, is to study and be prepared for the test in order to avoid guessing altogether. If you are a Joker (Batman reference) fan and just want to create chaos, you could also mark all the answers as ‘d’ and score decent marks.
More important than these guessing MCQ hacks are our exam tips to help you perform well in exams.