Your partner in real estate training since 1974
RealEstateSchoolWire - Rockwell Institute's Official Blog

Test-taking Tips: Don’t Let Distractors Distract You

Multiple choice questions are easy, right? But not so fast: while multiple choice questions may seem easier for the average test taker than essay questions, there are certain pitfalls that are unique to the multiple choice format.

Real estate student One of the most insidious pitfalls of multiple choice questions is that reading the answer choices too soon can influence your interpretation of the question. Educators have a term for incorrect multiple choice answers: "distractors." These wrong answers are designed to distract you, not only from the correct answer, but also from the question itself. So it's important that you have a clear understanding of what the question itself (called the "question stem") is asking for.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your understanding of the question is accurate and complete. First, hide the answer options and concentrate on the question stem. Read and re-read it until you have a thorough understanding of it. If it is phrased in a complicated or confusing way (using double negatives, for instance), rephrase it to a more simplified version. Then, see if you can come up with an answer on your own. This process—understanding the question and trying to construct an answer independently—is the most important step in answering a multiple choice question.

Next, take a look at the answer options. You should be able to identify the correct one easily. If you've taken the steps above, but still aren't sure which answer is correct, go back to the question stem. Plug in each answer option and see if it makes sense with the question. Distractors are designed also to distract you from the correct answer option, so considering each option separately can help you to isolate the right one.

After choosing an answer, always review it together with the question stem before marking your answer and moving on. This last step is important—it can help you catch a mistake at the last minute. It's a step you should never skip, even when you're certain you have chosen the correct answer.

Remember, Rockwell Institute is here to help with all your real estate exam questions.