Firefighter Exam Test-Taking Tactics - Part II

April 25, 2003
Don't stare at the answers when you are struggling to move choose the right one.

Negative Questions: Using "T" and "F" to evaluate answer choices is better than using something like a check mark to denote a correct answer when it comes to answering negative questions. Negative questions are questions which ask you to pick out an answer choice which is "not true." If you are evaluating each answer choice one by one and marking each one "T" or "F," negative questions will be easy for you to handle.

Half-true Answers: Sometimes an answer choice really contains two different statements. For instance, an answer choice might say, "there is a bedroom on the right and the kitchen is on the left." Maybe it is True that "there is a bedroom on the right," but False that "the kitchen is on the left." With this kind of answer choice, put a slash mark between the two different statements, and write "T" or "F" over each separate part of the answer choice. But out in the margin write "F" since an answer choice must be completely True to be valid.

When it is difficult to choose between two answer choices, look back at the question stem. Sometimes there are two answer choices which both look good. Or maybe all of the answer choices look bad. When you find yourself having trouble making the final choice of an answer, stop staring at the answer choices. Go back and look at the question stem and the information the question is based on.

A skillful test maker tries to make two or three of the answer choices look very good. All the answer choices may contain some truth, which make them tempting. Or all may look wrong. But the test maker has to have put some detail into the "fact pattern" of the question to justify the claim that one of these answers is better than the others. If reviewing the answer choices themselves has not helped, the clue to which answer is correct is likely to be in the question stem or "fact pattern" rather than in the answer choices. So go back to the question stem and the fact pattern the look for the deciding factor.

Choose the best answer. A very common problem for test takers is the problem of recognizing that the best possible answer to a question has not been included among the answer choices. None of the answer choices seems to be fully adequate to the situation. In part, this is often a result of the way multiple choice questions are constructed. The exam maker does not have to include all the correct procedures in answer choices; that might make for terribly long answer choices. Hence, some correct answers are only partial answers. Sometimes you will be given more than one partial answer and asked to choose which is the best among these. In this sort of situation, work at eliminating the answer choices which are definitely wrong or most seriously incomplete. For your answer choose the best one remaining after this kind of elimination process.

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