Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Academics

How Multiple-Choice Tests Are Actually Harder Than You Think

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

It’s just another typical morning before high school. You step outside as you feel the chilly weather; you walk to school, pace into class, and place your backpack by your seat.

However, you realize that you have a test. Your teacher comes in and says, “Class! Get ready for your test! It’s going to be 30 multiple-choice questions.” 

Everyone in the room cheers and shouts, “Yay!” 

Unfortunately, those good old days are over. Once you’re in university, you’ll notice that multiple-choice questions become more complex. 

In fact, the limitations of multiple-choice questions will surpass your expectations. Have you ever had those questions where it seems all of the options are correct answers, but there isn’t an “all of the above” option? This is a major problem because you’ll probably have to guess. 

But if all the questions are like this on the test, your chances of scoring 70% or above are lowered. If there are 25 questions, the chances of scoring 70% or above based solely on guesses are 1 out of 942,651. So, if you ever have those questions that seem like all the options are correct, you have to walk into the exam room and be confident in your material. 

Even if you are a hardcore studier, you may still have to guess on a multiple-choice quiz or test, especially when the questions are super-specific and are taken from a small portion of the textbook. When all of these questions are asked, how is it possible to really know what the answer is? You can only pick one option, and only one is correct. Plus, there won’t be any remedial points compared to short-answer questions. 

Hence, multiple-choice questions aren’t the best for students who like to express their thoughts. This is often known as the argument of versatility: there aren’t many alternatives other than the correct answer. 

Multiple-choice questions often rely heavily on how well you memorize the material, not how well you genuinely understand the content. For example, have you ever come across those questions where they ask you about the terms and definitions of different concepts? 

When you get those questions wrong, it’s not because you don’t understand the concept. But rather because you didn’t select the option with the word-to-word definition. However, getting the definition wrong doesn’t reflect how well a student knows or understands the material. 

So, with all of that being said, multiple-choice questions aren’t as accessible or accommodating as they are perceived to be. It feels like you need to legitimately memorize the whole textbook if the exam is fully based on multiple-choice questions. Moreover, you also don’t have the option to explain or show your answer as well. 

So next time your professor says your midterm is mainly multiple-choice, memorize the most out of that textbook and class notes. Then, you can eliminate the amount of guesswork and potentially ace your course. 

As of right now, continue to review and do your readings so you’ll be ready. Getting a good mark in multiple-choice exams is definitely doable. So, with good preparation, you’ll do well regardless of how hard or easy the questions are. 

Candice Zhang

Toronto MU '26

Retail Management student at TMU who loves coffee and writing more than people.