I’ve always thought I was a good guesser, and I have the grades to prove it.
Every semester, I hope that my finals are a majority multiple-choice test for that reason. As many of us “gifted, but only in elementary school,” kids are, I have always known how to work a test to make sure, even if I don’t know the material, that I will pass.
This was put to the test this semester (professor don’t look please) when I took one of my midterms that was a majority multiple choice. I knew absolutely nothing more than what was on my small cheat sheet that I was allowed to bring to the test, but I was in my element. I ended up getting an 88% on the test, which I was happy with.
Of course I’d rather not have to take a final, but if I absolutely have to I need it to be at least half multiple-choice to feel confident enough to pass. Realistically, I’d never say that multiple-choice tests are a guaranteed pass if you aren’t prepared. You have to have paid attention in class at least a little.
Pure guessing with no knowledge will never work. Statistically, questions with four choices give you a 25% chance of getting them right, 20% for questions with five choices. Final exams tend to be long, with the shortest being 50 questions in my experience. If I guess on all 50 questions, and each question had four choices there is 0.0001% of just passing with a C.
So obviously studying is essential, and gambling with important grades is not worth it. However, I still say that multiple-choice tests, with a few short answer questions, are the best way to test knowledge of the subject matter.
In an article for U.S. News, the vice president of research for the College Board, Wayne Camara, said that multiple-choice questions allow more forgiveness for students who may have missed a few things studying, no matter how prepared they may be. Essay and free-response questions show that a student has more knowledge on a topic, but there is little room for success if you just don’t know the material.
In a lot of my classes there aren’t final exams, but final projects that we work on for a significant amount of time. No matter how much time I have to do these projects I will always start the week before they’re due. As a procrastinating perfectionist, final projects are my least favorite way to finish a class because they’ll never turn out as good as I want them to be.
Final essays, as well, aren’t my favorite because I’ve become so accustomed to news writing, that it takes me too long to remember how to write academically. I can take short answer questions, but the essay only tests take me the whole time.
Thankfully, three of my four finals this semester are a majority multiple-choice, so I just might get my degree.