Tips for Tackling Multiple-Choice Questions


The key to understanding and retaining information while studying for the CPA Exam is to do tons of multiple choice questions. As much as I enjoy watching lectures, I can really tell if I have a good understanding of the material by how I navigate through these questions. It is a good rule of thumb to go through multiple choice questions as much as possible to prepare for exam day. 

The first go-around is a learning opportunity.

I may or may not get the questions right at this stage, and that is perfectly ok. This is the time to consider why right answers are right and why the wrong answers are wrong. This is particularly one of my favorite aspects of Roger CPA Review because they provide explanations for all the answer choices, and I always know whether or not my correct answers were lucky guesses or if I actually knew the reasoning behind them.

Personally, I believe that learning why an answer is wrong is more beneficial and not getting the correct answer on the first try is not a bad thing. Do not allow yourself to get discouraged if this happens to you (easier said than done I know). I have learned to take good notes when I select the wrong answer, in hopes of redeeming myself the second go-around.

Read everything in full. 

I am still learning to take my time to read the full question. I have gotten so frustrated when I have missed questions that I could have gotten right had I thoroughly read the question. After reading the question carefully, while being mindful not to rush through it, I get a clear interpretation of what it is asking and how the question is worded. 

For instance, some multiple choice questions will use words such as ALWAYS, NEVER, NOT, ALL, and EXCEPT, to name a few. Remember that rarely are there any absolutes when it comes to this exam; therefore, ALWAYS, ALL, and NEVER are not popular choices when included in a response to a question. In addition, words like NOT and EXCEPT mean that all but one of the responses relate to the question. These words can easily be overlooked if you rushed through it. So, I try to take my time and not get tricked by those particular words. 

It is recommended that you allow 1.5 minutes per question or 45 minutes per testlet.

For this current exam, anyway. It is best to stick to this time frame as closely as possible. If I can answer the question with certainty in less time, that is even better. Chances are if more than 1.5 minutes is needed to narrow down the correct response, the risk of mismanaging your time increases. However, when in this predicament, I usually mark the answer and come back to it if time permits at the end of the testlet. It is so easy to believe that if you only had a few more minutes, you would choose the right answer. Although this may be the case, the real truth is that you do not have a few minutes; you only have 1.5 minutes per question. Learn to trust yourself by eliminating the options you know are incorrect and pick the best remaining option.

Look for key words.

Looking for key words within a response option is also a really great way to quickly identify the correct answer to a multiple choice question. For example, inquires and analytical procedures are key words often used relative to review engagements. When going through my homework questions on this topic, I always look for those key words, and this drives the concepts home for me in a big way. 

Practice as often as you can.

I have learned the hard way that I will not be able to pass without answering as many questions as possible. Repetition reinforces retention. When I apply these methods to answering multiple choice questions, I feel most confident and prepared to sit for my exam. And I know you will too! 

–Kimberly Smith, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review

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