In Defense Of: Multiple Choice

Written by

The founder of multiple choice

Not sure which section of your midterm to start with? Just remember: recognition is easier than recall. Free response evader Alexandra Svokos expounds on the beauties of fill-in-the-bubble. 

Stop lying, you secretly loved the SATs. Page after page of delicious bubbles, yearning to be filled in. Like SEAL Team 6 at a bar, all of the options are throwing themselves at you, begging to be picked. In a multiple choice test, you are the hottest guy in the room and you call the shots.

There’s nothing better than sitting down with your number 2 pencil–vaguely wondering if a mechanical number 2 will still work–and your neat, organized Scantron. All of the information is right there on the page, questions and answers because this ain’t Jeopardy! All you have to do is scratch within the lines.

Multiple choice questions all follow a similar logic. Even if you have no idea what the question is talking about, you can find the answer by following the patterns you’ve learned from taking other multiple choice tests. For example, you know that if two of the answers are the same but for one word, the answer is one of those. For math, just plug the numbers of the answers in and see if the equations fit.  And come on, anything with “all of the above” or “none of the above” is basically a given. Plus, your teacher can even throw in little jokes that make you chuckle and relax!

Was Thomas Jefferson…

a. the third president of the United Kingdom

b. the third president of the United States

c. 127

d. a puppy

Plug 127 into “was Thomas Jefferson.” Does the equation hold? No. Not c, then. A puppy!  Obviously not, but boy do I feel better about this test!  We already know it has to be a or b since they’re the trick.  But which one?

This is where multiple choice gets even better. Many times, the answers to questions are featured in other questions. Later on in the test, for instance, you might see “What did Thomas Jefferson achieve as third president of the United States?” Boom. Problem solved. A+ and you didn’t even have to study. Who cares that you won’t remember the facts after you leave the room?

Although multiple-choice has been known to cause some anxiety (WHY ARE ALL OF MY ANSWERS B????), it has obvious benefits. If you’re completely clueless and can’t answer, you always know you can have fun making patterns out of your answers, going against the man by making an artistic statement: a dragon is usually complex enough that it will take up most of the allotted test time. The anxiety of test taking is quickly relieved as your professor just slides the Scantrons through a machine for grades. This is the true meaning of instant gratification.

Multiple choice masters, with their keen abilities to manipulate the system and work smarter rather than harder, are the true American heroes—sorry SEAL Team 6. You are the maker of your own destiny. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United Kingdom, would be so proud.

14th king of Great Britain via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. What is

    the most popular answer on exams at the Union Theological Seminary?

    Nun of the above!

  2. Anonymous  

    "Like SEAL Team 6 at a bar, all of the options are throwing themselves at you, begging to be picked."

    I'm sorry; I must be missing a reference. Otherwise this was a terrible metaphor.

  3. SATs? Feh!  

    The only Bubbles I care about is this one:

  4. Notez  

    Free response = the ability to BS + partial credit

    Your entire argument is now invalid

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