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Exam Questions and Their Types

College exams include various kinds of questions. So, prior to preparing for the coming exam, you need to find out what type of exam questions should be expected. You can check the course page or course material. In case you are not sure about the type of questions, consult your instructor.

The current article offers helpful tips on how to answer particular question types and how to get ready for them.

Questions that Require Short Answers

Such type of questions requires short answers. You may be asked to answer in a couple of words or write one or two paragraphs. The number of allocated marks indicates the required length.   

When you are getting ready for questions that require short answers, focus on the following aspects:

  • Names
  • Terminology
  • Theories and concepts
  • Facts
  • Differences and similarities

When your answer short questions:

  • Prior to writing your answer, plan it.
  • Make sure the answers are short. There is no need to rewrite the whole question. Do not provide information, which was not asked since it will not help you to receive a higher mar and will simply take all your time.
  • In case you find question that seem to be difficult to answer from the first try, mark them and return to them later.
  • Do your best and provide answers to all exam questions.

Multiple-Choice Questions

Such type of questions includes a question or only the first part of a statement, and possible answers (in most cases between 4 and 5). Your task is to select the correct variant of the answer. Remember that the number of marks shows how much time you can spend on each question.  

When you are getting ready for multiple-choice questions, pay attention to the following:

  • Names
  • Terminology
  • Theories and concepts
  • Facts
  • Differences and similarities

When you need to answer multiple-choice questions:

  • Before answering the questions, read the questions and answers to them.
  • Mark all the questions that seem to be complicated for you and try to return to them later on.
  • Provide answers to the questions you are most sure of first.
  • After that try to answer other questions. Eliminate the answers that are obviously incorrect.
  • Be careful with negatives. For instance, ‘Which option is not…?’
  • Pay attention to the time spent on answering the questions. When you start running of time, try to guess the answers to questions that are not known to you.
  • The first choice is instinctive and usually appears to be correct. That is why avoid changing first answers unless you are 100% confident about the answer. 

In most instances student’s task is to provide answers to all exam questions. However, instructors can reduce marks because of the incorrect answers. That is why it is better to follow the instructions given by the instructor. 

Questions that Require Long Answers or So-called Essay Type Questions

Such questions type needs answers that resemble a short essay or report. The answers can be a couple of paragraphs or even a few pages. There is no need to provide a list of references though. However, it is required to give credit to the used sources. Usually students are informed about the length of the answers.

When getting ready for essay type questions:

  • Read past exam papers in order to predict possible questions in the coming exam. Check whether the format of the exam has changed. 
  • Practice model answers.
  • Work out by answering according to the exam conditions. In other words, plan your answer and write it within the wet deadline.

When giving answers to essay type questions:

  • Understand the question by analyzing and reading it carefully.
  • Plan your possible answers by brainstorming all the ideas. Use the mind map.
  • Think of the key words and phrases and write them down. For instance, the possible answer may include four major points. Yu need to write them down using key phrases under the points.  
  • Begin answering by paraphrasing the question.
  • You should start each idea with a new paragraph. Support your ideas with examples, results and reasons. 
  • Leave some space between the paragraphs in case you would want to add some information later on.

As always, try to stick to the given time limit. Do not spend too much time on answering one question. However, if it happened that you started running out of time, provide at least key ideas under the questions so that your instructor could see them. Often times, such approach helps to earn additional points and increase the mark.

Make sure that your writing is neat.

Problems/Computational Type Questions

Here you will have to find a solution to the given problem by using calculations.

When getting ready for problems/computational type questions:

  • Learn the key theories, vocabulary, and formulas. Learn how to use the formulas.  
  • Check questions given in the last exam.
  • Answer such type of questions fully and write down every step. 

When giving answers to problems/computational questions:

  • Read and follow the instructions prior to giving final answers.
  • Write down all the methods, theories and formulas you are going to apply in your answers. 
  • In case you answer is not fully correct, you need to show it to your instructor so that he/she could see that you understand the process.
  • Draw the diagrams with a pencil. In case you need to alter anything, you will be able to erase the first drawing.
  • Provide headings and label all your drawings.