Saint Louis University

Objective Exam Preparation

Objective exams are multiple-choice, true/false, or fill-in-the-blank.


Everyday preparation

1. When reading through the textbook and homework, write out questions to the margin. While completing the reading or homework, attempt to answer these questions. These questions will become great practice problems for the future.

2. When taking notes, date each page and mark key concepts that the professor emphasized during class. What the professor emphasizes will often be good questions for essay exams.

  • You will know when a professor is emphasizing something because he or she will...
    • Say, "This is important."
    •  Spend significant time on the concept.
    • Write the concept or idea on the board.

3. Review your notes and previous homework throughout the week. By having your notes dated, you'll be able to see patterns develop throughout class discussions and homework.

4. If you like flash cards, create them on a weekly basis so that you do not have to rush to make them when you should be studying for the test.

When a test is approaching

1. Write down a study plan. For objective tests, plan to spend 2 days (or more) gathering study materials, making flash cards, etc. Then, prepare to spend 7 to 15 hours for 3 days reviewing amd memorizing material.

2. See what resources the professor is willing to provide. For objective tests, some professors may allow you to look over previous exams. Some professors will emphasize working practice problems. Others will provide nothing, but the only way to know is to ask.

3. Compile your resources.

4. Create tests using notes and hypothetical questions that you wrote down from the textbooks.

5. Study in an environment that will be similar to the test.

During the exam

1. Read the directions carefully. Ask questions if you need clarification.

2. Conduct a "mind dump" by writing down all the formulas, definitions, ideas, etc. that otherwise will create a mental distraction.

3. Plan to go through the exam 3 times.

  • First time, only answer questions that you think are "easy."
  • Second time, answer ones you're sure of and take a little but not too much time to think about.
  • Third time, give some more time to think out the answer.

4. DO NOT change your answer unless you are sure you have a good reason! When in doubt, your first instincts are best!

Review these tips depending on the kind of question

For True/False Questions

  • To be true, it must be 100% true for 100% of the time.
  • Words like always or never tend to indicate that the statement is false (especially when you can think of an exception).
  • Beware of words like some, usually, and often because these may indicate true statements.

For Matching Questions

  • Know whether or not answers can be used more than once.
  • Look at all the possibilities before answering.
  • Check off items as you use them.
  • Analyze the choices to see if any parts of the word or term will allow you to associate it with the correct answer.

For Multiple-Choice Questions

  • If the question is lengthy and complex, re-read it and underline the subject and verb.
  • Try to answer the question mentally before looking at the choices.
  • Read all the choices, saying "probable" or "not probable." Mark out those that are "not probable."
  • Beware of words like not, but, except because they indicate limits.
  • Words like always, never, and only are frequently wrong because there are no exceptions.
  • Look for hints in other questions and their available answers.

After the exam 

1. Review graded exams

  • Find out why incorrect responses are incorrect.
  • Decide whether questions come from text book or notes.
  • Examine how questions are worded.

2. Save all exams for future study and your records.

3. Determine what study habits need to be changed for the future.

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