I've tried organising my thoughts into different categories and explaining those with examples in here. Its more of a formal layout of my congregated thoughts and experiences over all these years. Where to use this? Why to use this? When to use this? Should I use this at all? If any one of these questions springs up in your mind - all i can say is read ahead and you wont be disappointed!
1. Frame your own response before looking at the options:
Read the question, think and first form your own answer, then look at the available choices. If you find your response in the provided set of options, then its correctness is almost close to guaranteed. On a personal level, this also boosts confidence.
2. Check the type of question - Single/Multiple Choice:
Checking weather the question is single choice or multiple choice is very important. Generally you have square button for multiple correct options and radio button for single answer questions.
3. Recollect the Tips:
Many a times, quite a few of us end up creating our own notes/tips before the exam. Go through the question once and try to relate it to the section it belongs to. Then recollect the tips of that section. Its possible that you will be able to find something relevant which is always better than making a wild guess.
4. Use Exclusion/Elimination:
When not positive about the correct answer, use the exclusion principle. This may help in deriving the correct answer.
Rational: There are times when a combination of options provided is correct. So, figure out the option which is definitely wrong and based on that, discard all the combinations that involves it. This can help in narrowing/zeroing down the best/correct answer.
Which one is the prime number?
Here, if the test case for a prime number is not known, then, we can try to narrow down the choices by elimination. Use the basic properties of divisibility for 2, 3, and 5 and check the results. You might end up observing a pattern that makes one of the options as an odd one. This could be your answer.
5. Check for Syntax Errors:
Its an advantage to look at the syntactical correctness of the provided options, since that eliminates the further step of validating the content of the option. Check the following question:
Which of the following algebraic expressions are correct?
a) a + b = (a+c)-(c-b)
b) a/b = (ac)/(b*c)
c) a*b = a+a+a ... b times
d) a-b = a#c+c-b
In this case, all of the options involve the most basic arithmetic operators but the option d contains "#" which is not an arithmetic operator and thus makes the expression syntactically incorrect. Irrespective of the other options, this one is definitely wrong.
6. Reverse Approach:
This once is tricky. Suppose, you have to evaluate a complex expression and find out all the values which satisfy it. Those values are provided as options. What you do is instead of evaluating the expression, you put the given values in the expression directly and check the validity. This might be easier than actually evaluating the expression. This one is more applicable for techincal exams and I am not able to quote a suitable example to explain it. But I am sure you have got a clue of what I am talking about.
7. Find the odd one:
There might be a case when you don't have any idea about the correct answer. In that case, try to relate the answers and find out the one having different characteristics than others (it might be syntax, naming, word length or anything). This probably would be the best guess. For Ex:
Which backgroup process does Automatic Shared Memory Management use to coordinate the sizing of memory components?
Now most of you must be clueless about this. There is no other option but to make a wild guess. Here, the option c ends with "MAN" while all other ends with "MON". This makes the option c the odd one and should be considered as the possible answer.
Note: For those who know Oracle, c is indeed the correct answer. MMAN stands for "Memory Manager" which is a new background process used by Automatic Shared Memory Management (ASMM) feature of Oracle 10G.
8. Time Crunch - Check for the Header/Footer:
If the question is quite lengthy, and you’re falling short of time, it’s advisable to read the opening and the last 1-2 lines of the question. This will give you an idea of what is actually asked in the question. This can be a simple thing for which there is no need to go through the complete question. This can save you some precious time.
9. Oversight – possible when hurried:
Sometimes a question seems to be known and you tend to mark the known answer (more dangerous if you find the answer in the options) without paying attention to the details. Always mark these questions for later review and go through while reviewing with more attention.
10. Unfamiliar, make a choice:
If you are not confident with the material, and no answers make sense, it is probably better to choose "true" (if that is a choice), or a real answer if there is a "none of the above".
Rational: Always remember that the exam is to test what you know, not what you don't. So, the possibility of having an actual or real correct answer is more than "none of the above". Same holds true for the True / False choices.
11. Familiar, discard it:
If you are well prepared, and none of the answers are making sense, choose "false", or "none of the above".
Rational: As you are confident that you have studied this subject area well and still none of the choices are making sense (though you are not sure if those are definitely correct), it's quite possible that this question is framed to disguise. In that case, "none of the above" will be a better option to choose.
12. Always answer if there is no penalty:
If there is no negative marking, you should always mark the answer. You might have to guess it but that's ok. The probability of marking a question with four choices (considering it a single choice) correct is .25. If there is negative marking, don't try it as for four incorrect answers, you need one correct and then also you are just even. Things become more complicated when you have multiple correct choices but the theory remains valid.
13. Derive the hints hidden in other questions:
Sometimes there is more than one question on same topic and it’s possible to derive some information relevant to other question from the one you already know. Consider these two questions:
What is the capital of India?
a) New Delhi
Which are the new states created in India?
c) New Delhi
Now you know the answer for the first question, it's New Delhi. Based on this information, you can discard New Delhi from the second question as country's capital is usually a city, not a state. This might not be correct but it's a logical guess based on the information at hand.
14. All of the above:
If you know that more than one out of the given options provided are correct, "all of the above" is a high possibility. If you have to guess it, it's advised to consider that option.
Which of the following are Geometric Shapes?
The options are
a) i and ii
b) i, ii and iii
c) i, ii and iv
d) all of the above
Ok, so we know Circle and Square are correct for sure. The choices have been made complicated due to option c and d. In such cases, go for "all of the above".
Rational: The same rules applies as mentioned in point 10, the exam is to testify what you know, not what you don't. As c and d are less unheard of, and examiner knows that, it makes sense to consider them as correct.
15. Best vs. Correct Answer:
Consider the question:
What is Earth's atmosphere consists of?
We can argue that Nitrogen is also a gas and thus it's the correct answer. Surely, Nitrogen is not the only gas the environment consists of. The option "Gas" gives us a more holistic answer and thus should be considered as best one. Please note that Nitrogen is also the correct answer but it's not the best one among the options provided.
Things seem very simple but it takes a lot to pen them down with evidence, all that is understood is not explicable. Such is the nature of my blog - you might challenge a few items here, but as aforesaid, this is a verbal expression of my personal experiences and hence a close candidate to be called 'My Opinion'. But am sure, this will be worth a glance, every time you attempt any such exam. Good Luck!