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Teacher Tips and Answers

Answering Multiple-Choice Questions

High-stakes assessments often include multiple-choice questions, which can be graded by machine. Questions may ask about thesis and support, inference and argument, definition and connotation, punctuation and usage, or anything in between. Follow these guidelines to score your best on multiple-choice questions:

  • Read questions first. Then you know what to watch for.
  • Note question order. Often the first question asks about the first line. Usually questions follow the order of the passage.
  • Treat each passage separately. You usually answer a bank of multiple-choice questions for each passage before being prompted to write about a set of passages together.
  • Be patient with short passages. They may take as long or longer to analyze than long passages.
  • Pay attention to footnotes. If there is a footnote, often there will be a question about it.
  • Analyze ideas and organization. Questions often focus on specific ideas and how they contribute to the whole passage. Think of what each idea accomplishes—summing, supporting, contrasting, questioning, and so on.
  • Analyze voice. Questions may ask about the writer's tone (feeling about the topic) or formality (relationship with the audience).
  • Analyze word choice and sentence fluency. Questions may focus on the writer's sentence style or on figures of speech.
  • Answer easy questions first. Eliminate obviously wrong answers.

Answering Multiple-Choice Questions About a Text

Often, high-stakes assessments will present you with a text, asking you to read it and analyze it by responding to multiple-choice questions.

Respond to questions about an article.

Carefully read the excerpt and then answer the questions that follow. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

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