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Basic Multiple Choice Question Strategies for the GMAT/GRE

The multiple choice question is the double-edged sword of the test-question arsenal. When paired with the “none of the above” option, it can be the bane of many students. These questions present a selection of answers without any real work necessary, and tempting the brain with laziness, often lead to the selection of an incorrect answer. When you’re feeling unsure, following these easy tactics may help guide you to the correct answer when completing multiple choice questions on the GMAT, GRE, or any test in general.

Cover the answers. By covering the answers for a few seconds, a test taker is forced to consider the first answer that instinctively comes to mind. Pushing yourself to conjure the “best” answer before revealing the choices can help your selection. If you have an immediate answer in mind, and then find it among the choices, it’s probably the correct answer. This technique removes the ‘lazy’ nature of the multiple choice question that ends up tricking us. (1)

Elimination & the odd-one out. If the answers are “more,” “less,” “none,” and “equal to the ratio of company X,” there’s a good chance the latter option is the correct response, because that answer stands out from the group. Of course this technique isn’t always true, but it can help when guessing between two answers. This strategy pairs well with elimination. By removing the answers that are definitely incorrect, you can greatly improve what would otherwise be a random guess. Also, eliminating one option can be imperative when faced with “all of the above” on many questions, as a way to quickly rule out that choice as well.

Negatives and absolutes. When answers use absolute words like “never” or “always,” they can often be false unless you are certain there are no exceptions to a rule. This technique is also useful for true/false questions.

Opposites. If you come across a question with complete opposite answers listed as options, one of them is usually the correct choice. (2)

Grammatical fit. When words don’t fit grammatically into the stem, they are likely incorrect. This might seem obvious, but being able to identify a word as a verb and recognize that the blank space requires an adjective can help eliminate options. This is a particularly helpful strategy on the GMAT & GRE verbal sections, when many words may seem to fit with a statement.
The GMAT and GRE both feature many difficult multiple choice questions that will require advanced strategies, but having some small back-up tactics can help when you’re in a bind. If you’re looking for assistance preparing for your test, contact us at Now get studying, and good luck!

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