Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tips for Sitting Multiple Choice Exams

The Certified Professional in Learning & PerformanceTM (CPLPTM) knowledge-based exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions -- all delivered one question at a time on a computer screen.

The exam covers subject matter from across the nine (9) areas of expertise outlined in the 2004 ASTD Competency Model and presents questions that range from understanding definitions to applying knowledge.

Candidates are given three (3) hours to complete the exam.

It's all meant to test comprehension of material from across the workplace learning & performance industry.

Clearly, studying for an exam so broad in subject matter can be a daunting task (understatement!). Preparation is key!

On top of studying a lot of stuff, sitting a multiple choice exam presents its own unique set of pros and cons.

On the pro side, with the nature of a multiple choice question, you know that the correct answer is there somewhere (and doesn't have to be rattled off the top of your head).

On the con side, that means that multiple choice questions often demand a greater familiarity with details such as specific facts.

Have hope! There are universal multiple choice test taking techniques you can use to increase your success rate, especially on questions that throw you for a loop.

Here are some some things to keep in mind:

  • Watch for questions where responses use absolute words, such as "always" or "never." These are less likely to be correct responses than ones that use conditional words like "usually" or "probably."

  • Humourous responses are usually just that -- humourous -- and no more.

  • "All of the above" is often a correct response. If you can verify that more than one of the other responses is probably correct, then choose "all of the above."

  • "None of the above" is usually an incorrect response, but this is less reliable than the "all of the above" rule.

  • Although these types of questions are not usually found on the CPLPTM exam -- you never know what might wind up in the question bank -- so be very careful not to get trapped by questions with double negatives.

  • Look for grammatical clues. If the stem ends with the indefinite article "an," for example, then the correct response probably begins with a vowel.

  • The longest response is often the correct one, because the author tends to load it with qualifying adjectives or phrases. Why? The author knows more about the correct answer than any of the distractors they've created.

  • Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct.

And -- ::drumroll please:: -- keep in mind that these types of exams are often looking for the BEST answer and not just a correct one.

That means read & consider all possible responses first.

Here's a hint -- read the responses from the bottom up. That forces you to slow down and take your time in considering your selection. :)

Finally -- Practice Practice Practice.

Figure out how you perform best on these types of exams and head to the testing center with your own personal strategy.

From all of us here at the 'Ledge, good luck!

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
Owl's Ledge LLC

Copyright (c) 2006 Trish Uhl, Owl's Ledge LLC

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