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IQ Test Taking Strategies

IQ tests are tests designed to examine one's relative intelligence. Multiple choice format tests are a favorite with most standard high school entrance or advanced campus placements or employment screening exams. Even globally acclaimed exams like SAT, GRE and GMAT are all multiple choice. They play a vital role in our lives today, and it is important we know how to master them.

Most people dwell under the illusion that multiple choice tests (MCT) are very easy and requires only good recognition skills. But give yourself a reality check if you are one from the above gang. A well designed MCT can be extremely difficult, containing motley of questions ranging from easy to tough ones, measuring higher order thinking skills, involving different levels of intelligence, such as application, comprehension, analysis or synthesis, apart from recognition skills. In order to spell success at MCTs you need to be familiar with the different kinds of questions it throws and the type of questions.

I will quickly run you through some handy tips to take on MCTs for IQ tests. Armed with these tricks of the trade, I bet you could improve your performance on IQ tests.

Types of multiple choice questions

There are 2 parts to a multiple choice question

  1. Stem (or questions)
  2. The answer choices

The stem can be a direct question (viz. Which is the widest river in the world?) or an indirect one (viz. All of the following are related except) The options to indirect questions can be very close, deftly designed to confuse the test taker, so you better watch out and re think on these.

Strategies for answering multiple choice questions

Before we begin, let me give you a few words of caution: these strategies will only prove efficacious provided you combine them with good study habits. These are not any magical spells, but if you implement them effectively, they will help improve your performance.

  1. Read the question carefully

    Although this strategy might seem very obvious, it is one of the most important and most neglected strategies. Make sure you know exactly what the question is asking. Look out for keywords in the questions and highlight them (by underlining, encircling or putting an asterisk against them.) This will reinforce them in your mind.

    Which amongst these are *not related to flowers?

    • Ovary
    • Sepals
    • Fruits
    • Leaves
    While answering the above make sure you have taken note of the negative "not" in the question.

  2. Review all the options before you make the final plunge

    Even if you think you have found your answer, do take a look at the remaining choices, incase there is a better fit. Your answer should always be the best fit.

  3. Use the process of elimination

    Use this to narrow down your choices, so as to strike out options which offer unlikely, irrelevant or poor answers. In this way you improve your odds at boiling down to the right answer in case you don't know the correct one and are forced to make a guess.

  4. Take the question at face value

    Don't try to read between the lines or overanalyze the question that is being asked. This way you run the risk of misinterpreting the question and reduce your chances of hitting the right choice. It's true you have to watch out for tricky ones, but don't complicate the simple ones!

  5. Strike off the absolutes in the options

    As you skim through the answer choices you might come across ones which are absolutes "all, never, none and always". These make no accommodations for exceptions. Excluding some very specific questions, the answer choices containing an absolute, are most likely to be incorrect.

    The painting of Van Gogh are liked by

    • All who see them.
    • Most of the art lovers.
    • None at all.
    Here you can immediately know that the second option is the correct choice, as it is not absolute.

  6. Don't spend too much time for any one question

    As most IQ tests have to be completed within a stipulated time limit, you must use your time wisely. Hence when faced with a hard-to-crack question, place an asterisk against it and move on. Don't rattle your brain over it and drain away your time. Later if you have time, you can always revert back.

  7. Don't change your answers

    As the sages say "go with your first choice" If you have an urge to change your answer, don't oblige, it's probably your nerves at play.

  8. Watch out for eye-catchers

    Some options look very obvious to the eye. These are the places where examiners try to trap the Joe-Bloggs. At times there are hidden links and fine-prints which we most often tend to overlook.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and attack the IQ test with renewed confidence. Here's wishing you all the luck!

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