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Adult Learning Theory Group 4 - Test Taking Skills

True and False Tests

Multiple Choice Tests
Essay Tests
True and False Tests


Every part of a true sentence must be TRUE

o       If any one part of the sentence is false, the whole sentence is false


  • Negatives can be confusing.

q       If the question contains negatives such as “no, not, cannot”, drop the negative and read what remains.

q       Decide whether that sentence is true or false.  If it is true, its opposite, or negative, is usually false.

q       EXAMPLE:  It is not possible to find a cornfield anywhere near Plainfield.

  • Qualifiers are words that restrict or open up general statements.

q       Words like “sometimes, often, frequently, ordinarily” open up the possibilities of making accurate statements.  These words are more likely to reflect reality, and usually indicate TRUE answers.

q       EXAMPLE:  Sometimes it snows in the fall.

 Absolute words restrict possibilities.

    • “No, never, none, always, every, entirely, only” imply the statement must be true 100% of the time and usually indicate FALSE answers.
    • EXAMPLE:  Every single tree loses its leaves in the fall.

 Long Sentences often include groups of words set off by punctuation.

    • Pay attention to the “truth” of each of the phrases.  If one is false, it usually indicates a FALSE answer.
    • EXAMPLE:  Summers in Chicago are usually pretty hot; however, Chicago usually gets snow at least once in July.


Often true/false test contain more true answers than false answers.  You have more than a 50% chance of being right with true.  Review past tests for patterns. 


Many students find true-false items especially difficult. A slight alteration in the phrasing of the item can make all the difference in the world, so these questions must be read and considered carefully. The basic ground rule for answering true-false items is that if any part of the statement is not true, then the student should select false as the answer.

By the same token, true-false items can be over-analyzed to the point that the student goes beyond the scope of the question, looking to find an extreme exception to what the question is testing or the "trick" suspected of lurking somewhere in the phrasing. Read carefully, but judge what the question is actually saying.

Some teachers show a definite tendency toward having predominantly true or predominantly false items on their true false tests. It would be well worth your time to monitor the proportion of true to false items on the first couple of tests. If you are forced to guess on an item and if your teacher has shown a definite tendency on past tests toward mostly true or mostly false statements, choose whichever has been more frequent.

Analyses of a wide variety of teachers’ tests indicate a greater percentage of true than false items. If no tendency has been apparent on past tests, your best option is to guess true.

Strategies for Answering True/False Questions

  • Read to the end of the sentence. All information in a statement must be true for it to be marked true. If any detail is incorrect, the statement should be marked false.

  • Watch for qualifiers. Words such as all, always, none, and never usually make a statement false. Words like most, many, some, and usually often make the statement true.

  • Exaggerated or complex statements are generally false.

  • Statements that contain unfamiliar terminology are usually false.

  • If you’re unsure if a statement is true of false, mark it true.

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