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Study Skills

5 Quick Tips for Answering True-or-False Test Questions

A hand writing on a piece of paper with a penTesting is a huge part of a student’s life. In fact, between kindergarten and 12th grade, the average student takes 112 federal, state, or local mandated assessment tests, according to an inventory and preliminary analysis completed by the Council of the Great City Schools.

This doesn’t even include the number of tests given by teachers each week to ensure that students understand day-to-day coursework.

So, for many, by the time college begins, the test-taking process becomes almost second nature. Yet, the American Test Anxieties Association reports that as many as one in five students experience high text anxiety. An additional 18 percent of student indicate that their test anxiety is in the moderate to high range.

One way to help ease this angst involves understanding a few test-taking best practices. Here are some useful to consider with regard to true or false test questions specifically.

1. Read the questions carefully

In true-or-false test questions, it’s not uncommon to have just one word make the difference as to whether the statement is correct or not.

For instance, the statement “the sky is blue” is correct, but the statement that “the sky is always blue” is not necessarily right if you account for days that are cloudy or the dark, nighttime sky.

That’s why it is beneficial to slow down when you read these types of questions. This ensures that you know exactly what statement you’re either agreeing or disagreeing with.

2. Dissect the statement word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase.

Another helpful tip is to look at each word and/or phrase within the statement to determine whether it is true. This is because, if any part of the statement is false, then the entire thing has to be false.

An example of this would be: “spaghetti sauce contains tomatoes and is blue.” While it is true that spaghetti sauce does contain tomatoes, the sauce is red. Therefore, this statement is false even though the first section (spaghetti sauce contains tomatoes) is true.

3. Look for inflexible words.

If you heard someone say that they are always hungry, are they really hungry 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Probably not. Instead, what they likely mean is that they are often hungry.

Though word choice isn’t super important in this particular friendly context, when you’re talking about whether a test question is correct or not, a strict and inflexible word can easily change your answer.

For this reason, when reading true or false questions, look for words like always and never as very few things in life always or never happen since there are typically exceptions to every rule.

Other words that are more flexible and therefore may be more true than false include: seldom, generally, rarely, or oftentimes.

4. Don’t become confused by negatives.

A true-or-false question with a statement can be slightly confusing if it includes a negative word such as not or cannot.

To keep these negatives from causing you to make the wrong choice, remove the negative word from the sentence and read it again. Is this new version true? If so, your answer to the question with the negative is false.

For example, if the statement is: “a duck cannot swim,” you would change cannot to can and ask yourself whether the statement is true. It is, because ducks can swim, making the initial statement false.

Sometimes sentences will contain two negatives, which can make them more confusing yet. When this happens, the context of the statement is actually positive, so pay attention to these as well.

5. When all else fails, guess.

If you’ve applied the previous techniques to a true-or-false test question and are still unsure whether the correct answer is true or false, just guess.

Because there are only two possible answers, you have a 50 percent chance of being right. Plus, if the test is timed, you don’t want to take too long being stuck on any one question.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to save all of the true-or-false questions you’re unsure about to the very end of the exam. That way you have enough time to answer the questions that you do know correctly, giving you a higher score in the end.

The Bottom Line on True-or-False Test Questions

Don’t let yourself get too stressed out by true or false questions on tests. Simply employ strategies such as these and strive to do your best.

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