The following information is from Cornell University and is adapted from Walter Pauk's book How to Study in College. A direct link to the following information is provided in the Resources appendix.

The Center for Learning & Teaching at Cornell University gives the following advice:

  • Cope with Qualifiers
    • Qualifiers are words that alter a statement. Words like always, most, equal, good, and bad. In a multiple-choice test, qualifiers can make an option on a test question be a correct option or an incorrect option. For example, the following two statements are nearly identical: "It often rains in Seattle." "It always rains in Seattle." The first statement is true, while the word always in the second statement makes it false.
    • Keep careful track of qualifiers bycircling them when they appear in a test question or in the answer options.
    • To beat qualifiers, you need to know the qualifier families:
      • All, most, some, none (no)
      • Always, usually, sometimes, never
      • Great, much, little, no
      • More, equal, less
      • Good, bad
      • Is, is not
    • Whenever one qualifier from a family is used in an answer option, substitute each of the others for it in turn. Then you can tell which of the qualifiers fits best. If the best qualifier is the one in the answer option, then the option is true; if the best qualifier is another one from the family, then the answer option is false.
  • Notice Negatives
    • Negatives can be words like no, not, none and never, or they can be prefixes like il-, as in illogical, un-, as in uninterested, im-, as in impatient. Notice negatives because they can reverse the meaning of a sentence. For example, in this answer option, the prefix in- in indistinguishable causes the statement to be false:
      • "Because it is a liquid at room temperature, mercury is indistinguishable from other metals."
    • Each negative reverses the meaning of a sentence. With two negatives, the question's meaning should be the same as it was without. For example, the first statement below has no negatives. It is obviously true. The second statement has two negatives. Since each negative reverses the meaning of the sentence, it is also true, but it is harder to identify as true.
      • "It is logical to assume that Thomas Edison's fame was due to his many practical inventions."
      • "It is illogical to assume that Thomas Edison's fame was not due to his many practical inventions."
    • When you find negatives in a question, circle them. Try to determine the meaning of the question or statement without the negative. This will help you determine if the answer option is true or false.
  • Choose the Best Response
    • Many options in a multiple-choice answer may have some truth to them. You want to identify the best response from the good responses. If you have eliminated other answer options and have narrowed it down to two, and both seem true, try to pick the answer option that is in some way better than one that is just good. Be sure to reread the stem (or question) over when selecting the best answer.
  • Use Grammatical Clues
    • Although questions follow different formats, all must follow the rules of grammar. You can eliminate answer options that do not make sense grammatically even if they contain correct information. Consider this example:
      • The people of Iceland
        1. a country located just outside the Arctic Circle
        2. are the world's most avid readers
        3. claim to be descendents of the Aztecs
        4. the capital, Reykjavik, where arms talks have been held
      • Answer option (a) is missing the verb, and answer option (d) has no connection to "the people of Iceland". These options can be eliminated, even though both are true, and you are left with options (b) and (c).
  • Mark Only "Sure Things" First, Make 3 "Passes" through the Test
    • Go through the test first and answer all the questions for which the answers come easily. For the questions that seem more difficult, mark the qualifiers and negatives and eliminate as many options as you can. This will give you a head start for your second pass. You may come across another question that gives you a clue to the one that stumped you. On your second pass, take the extra time to figure out the best of the rest of the answer options. On your third pass, take an educated guess at the questions that are still elusive because any answer is better than no answer.


Final Words

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Common Interview Questions for Financial Analysts

    Learn more about the career of financial analyst, along with specific potential interview questions and answers for this type of position.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Tips on Passing the CFA Level I on Your First Attempt

    Obtain valuable tips and helpful study instructions that can help you pass the Level 1 Chartered Financial Analyst exam on your first attempt.
  3. Trading

    Getting Started In Forex Options

    Stocks are not the only securities underlying options. Learn how to use FOREX options for profit and hedging.
  4. Trading

    Options Basics Tutorial

    Discover the world of options, from primary concepts to how options work and why you might use them.
  5. Trading

    Getting Acquainted With Options Trading

    Learn more about stock options, including some basic terminology and the source of profits.
  6. Trading

    Google Stock Too Expensive For You? Try Options

    Investing in Google (GOOG) generally requires you to pay the price of the share multiplied by the number of shares bought. An alternative using lesser capital involves using options.
  7. Small Business

    4 Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

    Job interviews can be hard enough. Add tough questions to the mix and it can seem impossible to shine. But there are ways to prepare for hard questions.
  8. Trading

    Options Trading Volume And Open Interest

    Learn how these two statistics can give you an edge in trading options.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the difference between yield and return?

    While both terms are often used to describe the performance of an investment, yield and return are not one and the same ...
  2. What are the Differences Among a Real Estate Agent, a broker and a Realtor?

    Learn how agents, realtors, and brokers are often considered the same, but in reality, these real estate positions have different ...
  3. What is the difference between amortization and depreciation?

    Because very few assets last forever, one of the main principles of accrual accounting requires that an asset's cost be proportionally ...
  4. Which is better, a fixed or variable rate loan?

    A variable interest rate loan is a loan in which the interest rate charged on the outstanding balance varies as market interest ...
Trading Center