How to guess when you don't have a clue

The following may or may not be valid for you professor. As you are reviewing for your exam, look through past exams and quizzes to see if these are things your professor usually does, or if they usually do the opposite. They are likely to do the same thing on your next exam. Note: Computer-generated tests and tests created by people well-versed in statistics will probably not follow these hints.

  • Alternatives containing an unknown word or a technical term with which you are unfamiliar tend to be incorrect.
  • If two alternatives overlap, both are probably incorrect if there is only one correct response.
  • The longest or most complex multiple choice answers are good guesses, though sometimes complexity indicates a false statement.
  • When one alternative means essentially the same thing as another, both are probably incorrect. If, however, you think they have the correct answer in them, pick the longest of the two almost-identical answers.
  • If 4 out of the 5 answers are on the same topic, the answer probably isn't the oddball.
  • If you don't know which choice to make, B or C on 4-answer questions and B, C, or D on 5-answer questions are more likely to be correct.
  • Limiting words such as "always," "never," "all," or "must" appear approximately 80% of the time in incorrect choices.
  • Qualifying adjectives, indicating possibility, such as "sometimes," "may," "generally," "perhaps," "most," "some," "usually," "could," and "might", often indicate the correct answer.
  • Correct items sometimes repeat some of the terms in the question.
  • Incorrect alternatives tend to be vague.
  • If two alternatives seem to be opposites, one of them is probably correct.
  • Avoid pairs. If question 28 is known to be B, avoid guessing B in 27 or 29.
  • Non-answers, such as "Zero" or "none of the above" are usually not the best answer to guess.
  • "All of the above" is generally a good guess.
  • In questions asking for the most or the least, pick the answer next to the most or the least. For example, if picking out the "most" from
    • 5
    • 8
    • 9
    • 15
    • 30
    you should guess d, 15.
  • If a few questions have five possible choices instead of four, pick number five.
  • Exaggerated answers are generally false.
  • Insulting statements are likely to be incorrect answers.
  • Jokes are likely to be incorrect answers.
  • Extreme choices are likely to be incorrect answers.