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Taking Multiple Choice Exams

Studying for a multiple choice exam requires a special method of preparation distinctly different from an essay exam. Multiple choice exams ask a student to recognize a correct answer among a set of options that include 3 or 4 wrong answers (called distracters ), rather than asking the student to produce a correct answer entirely from his/her own mind. For many reasons, students commonly consider multiple choice exams easier than essay exams. Perhaps the most obvious reasons are that:

The correct answer is guaranteed to be among the possible responses. A student can score points with a lucky guess. Many multiple choice exams tend to emphasize basic definitions or simple comparisons, rather than asking students to analyze new information or apply theories to new situations. Because multiple choice exams usually contain many more questions than essay exams, each question has a lower point value and thus offers less risk.

Despite these factors, however, multiple choice exams can actually be very difficult and are in this course. Consider that:

Because multiple choice exams contain many questions, they force students to be familiar with a much broader range of material than essay exams do. Multiple choice exams also usually expect students to have a greater familiarity with details such as specific dates, names, or vocabulary than most essay exams do. Students cannot easily "bluff" on a multiple choice exam. Finally, because it is much more difficult for a teacher to write good multiple choice questions than to design essay questions, students often face higher risks due to unintended ambiguity. [This is NOT the case with Vogeler's tests!]

To prepare for a multiple choice exam, consider the following steps:

Begin studying early Multiple choice exams tend to focus on details, and you cannot retain many details effectively in short-term memory. If you learn a little bit each day and allow plenty of time for repeated reviews, you will build a much more reliable long-term memory. Make sure that you identify and understand thoroughly everything that your instructor emphasized in class. Pay particular attention to fundamental terms and concepts that describe important events or features, or that tie related ideas and observations together. These are the items that most commonly appear on multiple choice exams. As you study your class notes and your assigned readings, make lists and tables. Concentrate on understanding multi-step processes, and on ideas, events, or objects that

form natural sequences or groupings. Look for similarities and differences that might be used to distinguish correct choices from distracters on an exam. If your textbook highlights new vocabulary or key definitions, be sure that you understand them. Sometimes new words and concepts are collected at the end of a chapter. Check to be sure that you have not left any out by mistake. Do not simply memorize the book's definitions. Most instructors will rephrase things in their own words as they write exam questions, so you must be sure that you really know what the definitions mean.

Brainstorm possible questions with several other students who are also taking the course. Practice on sample questions, if you have access to a study guide or old exams.

Answering Multiple Choice Questions There are many strategies for maximizing your success on multiple choice exams. The best way to improve your chances, of course, is to study carefully before the exam. There is no good substitute for knowing the right answer. Even a well-prepared student can make silly mistakes on a multiple choice exam, however, or can fall prey to distracters that look very similar to the correct answer. Here are a few tips to help reduce these perils:

Before you begin taking the exam, enter all pieces of required information on your answer sheet

If you are so eager to start that you forget to enter your name and ID number, your results may never be scored. Remember: your instructor will not be able to identify you by handwriting or similar text clues.

Always cover up the possible responses with a piece of paper or with your hand while you read the stem, or body of the question.

Try to anticipate the correct response before you are distracted by seeing the options that your instructor has provided. Then, uncover the responses.

If you see the response that you anticipated, circle it and then check to be sure that none of the other responses is better. If you do not see a response that you expected, then consider some of the following strategies to eliminate responses that are probably wrong.

None of these strategies is infallible. A smart instructor will avoid writing questions for which these strategies work, but you can always hope for a lapse of attention.

1. Responses that use absolute words, such as "always" or "never" are less likely to be correct than ones that use conditional words like "usually" or "probably." 2. "Funny" responses are usually wrong. 3. "All of the above" is often a correct response. If you can verify that more than one of the other responses is probably correct, then choose "all of the above." 4. "None of the above" is usually an incorrect response, but this is less reliable than the "all of the above" rule. Be very careful not to be trapped by double negatives. 5. Look for grammatical clues. If the stem ends with the indefinite article "an," for example, then the correct response probably begins with a vowel. 6. The longest response is often the correct one, because the instructor tends to load it with qualifying adjectives or phrases. 7. Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct. 8. If all else fails, choose response (b) or (c). Many instructors subconsciously feel that the correct answer is "hidden" better if it is surrounded by distracters. Response (a) is usually least likely to be the correct one. If you cannot answer a question within a minute or less, skip it and plan to come back later. Transfer all responses to the answer sheet at the same time, once you have marked all questions on your exam. (If you try to do several things at once, you increase the probability of making a mistake. Saving the relatively mindless job of filling in bubbles until the last step reduces the probability of making silly errors.)

Be sure that you have filled the appropriate bubbles carefully IN PENCIL.

our instructor will probably never take a close look at your answer sheet, so if you fail to fill in bubbles completely or if you make stray marks, only the computer will notice, and you will be penalized. Erase any accidental marks completely.

Take the time to check your work before you hand in the answer sheet.

Unlike an essay exam, on which you may later appeal a grade on the grounds that the instructor misunderstood your response, a multiple choice exam offers you no opportunity for "partial credit." If you filled the wrong bubble, your answer is 100% wrong. Strategies for answering difficult questions: 1. Eliminate options you know to be incorrect If allowed, mark words or alternatives in questions that eliminate the option 2. Give each option of a question the "true-false test:" This may reduce your selection to the best answer 3. Question options that grammatically don't fit with the stem 4. Question options that are totally unfamiliar to you 5. Question options that contain negative or absolute words. Try substituting a qualified term for the absolute one.

For example, frequently for always; or typical for every to see if you can eliminate an option 6. "All of the above:" If you know two of three options seem correct, "all of the above" is a strong possibility 7. Number answers: toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers 8. "Look alike options" probably one is correct; choose the best but eliminate choices that mean basically the same thing, and thus cancel each other out 9. Double negatives: Create the equivalent positive statement 10. Echo options: If two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct 11. Favor options that contain qualifiers The result is longer, more inclusive items that better fill the role of the answer 12. If two alternatives seem correct, compare them for differences, then refer to the stem to find your best answer Guessing:

Always guess when there is no penalty for guessing or you can eliminate options Don't guess if you are penalized for guessing and if you have no basis for your choice Use hints from questions you know to answer questions you do not. Change your first answers when you are sure of the correction, or other cues in the test cue you to change.

Remember that you are looking for the best answer, not only a correct one, and not one which must be true all of the time, in all cases, and without exception.

General test preparation

To do well on tests you must first learn the material, and then review it before the test. These are techniques to better understand your material: Learning

Take good notes in your class lectures and textbooks See the Guides on Taking notes in Lectures (and Taking notes from a textbook!)

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Review your notes soon after class/lecture Review notes briefly before the next class Schedule some time at the end of the week for a longer review

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Take good notes about as your teacher tells you what will be on the test Organize your notes, texts, and assignments according to what will be on the test Estimate the hours you'll need to review materials Draw up a schedule that blocks units of time and material Test yourself on the material Finish your studying the day before the exam

1. How an atom behaves when it comes into contact with other atoms is determined by its

a. nucleus. b. size. c. protons. d. neutrons. e. electrons.

2. Cellulose is a _____ made of many _____.

a. polypeptide . . . monomers b. carbohydrate . . . fatty acids c. polymer . . . glucose molecules d. protein . . . amino acids e. lipid . . . triglycerides

3. In a hydrolysis reaction, _____, and in this process water is _____ .

a. a polymer breaks up to form monomers . . . consumed b. a monomer breaks up to form polymers . . . produced c. monomers are assembled to produce a polymer . . . consumed d. monomers are assembled to produce a polymer . . . produced e. a polymer breaks up to form monomers . . . produced

4. The four main categories of macromolecules in a cell are

a. proteins, DNA, RNA, and steroids. b. monosaccharides, lipids, polysaccharides, and proteins. c. proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. d. nucleic acids, carbohydrates, monosaccharides, and proteins. e. RNA, DNA, proteins, and carbohydrates.

5. The characteristic that all lipids have in common is

a. they are all made of fatty acids and glycerol. b. they all contain nitrogen. c. none of them is very high in energy content. d. they are all acidic when mixed with water. e. none of them dissolves in water.

6. The overall three-dimensional shape of a polypeptide is called the

a. double helix. b. primary structure. c. secondary structure. d. tertiary structure. e. quaternary structure.

7. Which of the following do polysaccharides and proteins have in common?

a. They are both made of amino acids. b. Their structures contain sugars. c. They are hydrophobic. d. They are large polymers. e. They each consist of four basic kinds of subunits.

8. A glucose molecule is to starch as

a. a steroid is to a lipid. b. an amino acid is to a protein. c. a nucleic acid is to a polypeptide. d. a fat is to glycerol. e. an amino acid is to a nucleic acid.

9. Which of the following ranks the molecules in the correct order by size?

a. water . . . sucrose . . . glucose . . . protein b. protein . . . water . . . glucose . . . sucrose c. water . . . protein . . . sucrose . . . glucose d. protein . . . sucrose . . . glucose . . . water e. glucose . . . water . . . sucrose . . . protein

10. Lipids differ from other large biological molecules in that they

a. are much larger. b. are not truly polymers. c. do not have specific shapes. d. do not contain carbon. e. contain nitrogen atoms.


An example of a saturated fatty acid is (A) Palmitic acid (B) Oleic acid (C) Linoleic acid (D) Erucic acid If the fatty acid is esterified with an alcohol of high molecular weight instead of glycerol, the resulting compound is (A) Lipositol (B) Plasmalogen (C) Wax (D) Cephalin The carbon chain of a saturated fatty acidA. has no double bonds. B. is the basis of the ATP molecule. C. forms hydrogen bonds with itself. D.has a repeating backbone of sugars and phosphates. An unsaturated fat could be changed into a saturated fat if A. peptide bonds were broken. B. hydrogen atoms were added. C. glycerol molecules were added. D. fatty acid chains were shortened. Fatty acids containing double bonds are found inA. proteins. B. saturated lipids. C. polysaccharides. D. unsaturated lipids. Which of the following types of bonding occurs during complementary base pairing?A. ionic B. peptide C. covalent D. hydrogen Nucleic acids are composed of A. glucose B. enzymes C. fatty acids D. nucleotides Which of the following is not a part of a nucleotide?A. Sugar. B. Glycerol. C. Phosphate. D. Nitrogen base Which of the following is composed of nucleotides?A. Fat. B. RNA. C. Starch. D. Protein. Which of the following represents the structure of a nucleotide?A. Salt lipid base. B. Glucose glucose glucose. C. Phosphate sugar nitrogenous base. D. Amino acid amino acid amino acid. The bonding of a glucose molecule and a maltose molecule would result in a A. triglyceride. B. disaccharide. C. phospholipid. D.polysaccharide.

The hydrolysis of which of the following substances will produce the greatest number of glucose molecules? A. Maltose. B. Sucrose. C. A disaccharide. D. A polysaccharide. The main difference between cellulose and starch molecules is A. the type of linkage between glucose subunits. B. that only cellulose contains ribose building blocks. C. that only starch is made from glucose building blocks. D. the type of monosaccharide used to form these polymers. How many double bonds are there between carbon atoms in a saturated fatty acid? A. 0 B. 1 C. 2 D. more than 2 A characteristic of unsaturated fats is that they A. denature as they cool. B. are made up of glucose and fructose. C. are made up of amino acids and glycerol. D. have double bonds in their carbon chains. A lipid molecule is produced when A. fatty acids bond to glycerol. B. amino acids bond to glycerol. C. monosaccharides bond to glycogen. D.dehydration occurs between fatty acids and glycogen. Lipids are composed of A. nucleotides. B. amino acids. C. monosaccharides. D. glycerol and fatty acids. Which of the following is a function of some proteins? A. Emulsify fats. B. Make up genes. C. Make up cell walls. D. Speed up chemical reactions. A glucose molecule contains A. six carbon atoms. B. two high-energy phosphates.

C. three fatty acids and glycerol. D. a long chain of carbohydrate rings. The building blocks or monomers that make up carbohydrates are A. nucleotides. B. amino acids. C. monosaccharides. D. fatty acids and glycerol The unit molecule of a protein is A. glucose. B. glycerol. C. a fatty acid. D. an amino acid. The breakdown of a disaccharide may produce A. glucose. B. glycerol. C. fatty acids. D. amino acids. Which of the following is made up of a long chain of glucose molecules? A. DNA. B. Starch. C. Pepsin. D. Phospholipid.

All of the following are true about agar except it A)liquefies at 100C. B)is a polysaccharide derived from a red alga. C)Solidifies at approximately 40C. D)is metabolized by many bacteria. E)facilitates obtaining pure cultures. 4. Below are three different culture media. Use them to answer the following questions. Medium A PO4 KH2PO4 MgSO4 (NH4)2SO4 Medium B Medium C Na2HPO4 KH2PO4 CaCl2 NaHCO3 Peptone KH2PO2 Na2HPO4

Tributyrin (a lipid) Glucose

(NH4)2SO4 MgSO4


Which of these media, if any are chemically defined?

A)A B)B C)A and B D)A and C E)None of these


On which medium would an chemoorganotrophic heterotroph grow? A)A B)B C)C D)A and B E)None of these


On which medium would an photolithotrophic autotroph grow? A)A B)B C)C D)A and C E)None of these

If you are designing an experiment involving a photolithotrophic autotroph; in addition to light, which of the following would be most essential to maintaining growth of the organism? A)a continual supply of abundant oxygen B)a nutrient medium containing glucose C)a source of CO2 D)keeping the cultures at 37C E)adding chlorophyll to the culture medium 6CORRECT If you are designing an experiment involving a chemolithotrophic autotroph; which of the following would be most essential to maintaining growth of the organism? A)a nutrient medium containing glucose B)a continual supply of abundant oxygen C)keeping the cultures at 37C

D)a source of reduced inorganic compound such as NH4 E)adding agar to the culture medium 7CORRECT The addition of which of the following would change a chemically defined medium into a complex medium? A)Biotin (a vitamin) B)K2HPO4 C)NH4NO3 D)Maltose E)Yeast extract Which of the following procedures can be used to isolate a pure culture of a bacterium from a mixture? A)streak plating B)dilution plating C)enrichment culture D)All the above can be used to isolate a pure culture of a bacterium from a mixture. E)None of the above can be used to isolate a pure culture of a bacterium from a mixture. Which of the following is a micronutrient? A)Carbon B)Manganese C)Potassium D)Magnesium E)Nitrogen Which of the following is a macronutrient? A)Manganese B)Magnesium C)Molybdenum D)Zinc E)Cobalt Which of the following uses radiant energy as their energy source? A)Chemotroph B)Lithotroph C)Autotroph D)Heterotroph E)Phototroph






Which of the following obtain energy from the oxidation of inorganic or organic chemicals? A)Chemotroph B)Lithotroph C)Autotroph D)Heterotroph E)Phototroph An organism is capable of oxidizing H2S and using the energy obtained from the reaction to reduce carbon dioxide. Which type of metabolism does this organism possess? A)Photolithotrophic autotroph B)Chemoorganotrophic heterotroph C)Photoorganotrophic heterotroph D)Chemolithotrophic autotroph E)Not enough information to determine which type An organism is capable of oxidizing fatty acids to obtain energy, hydrogen, electrons and carbon. Which type of metabolism does this organism possess? A)Photolithotrophic autotroph B)Chemoorganotrophic heterotroph C)Photoorganotrophic heterotroph D)Chemolithotrophic autotroph E)Not enough information to determine which type An organism is capable of photosynthesis but use organic matter as their electron donor and carbon source. Which type of metabolism does this organism possess? A)Photolithotrophic autotroph B)Chemoorganotrophic heterotroph C)Photoorganotrophic heterotroph D)Chemolithotrophic autotroph E)Not enough information to determine which type An organism uses radiant energy as their energy source and carbon dioxide as their carbon source. Which type of metabolism does this organism possess? A)Photolithotrophic autotroph B)Chemoorganotrophic heterotroph C)Photoorganotrophic heterotroph D)Chemolithotrophic autotroph E)Not enough information to determine which type





Addition of blood to a culture medium only allows the hemolytic bacteria that grow on the plate to be picked out. This is an example of a A)Differential media. B)Liquid media. C)Chemically defined media. D)Selective media. E)Complex media. Microorganisms require about 10 elements in large quantities, used to construct proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids. 17CORRECT True False 2. Selection of culture media for particular organisms will depend on its nutritional requirements. True False 3. Those organisms that obtain carbon from CO2 or other biosynthetic sources are called heterotrophs autotrophs 4. Those organisms that obtain carbon from preformed organic molecules from other organisms are called heterotrophs autotrophs 5. Those organisms that obtain their energy from oxidation of organic or inorganic compounds are called phototrophs chemotrophs 6. Those organisms that obtain their hydrogen (electron) sources from organic molecules are called lithotropes organotrophs 7. Nutrient uptake involves which of the following transport mechanisms? diffusion active transport group translocation endocytosis all of the above 8. Siderophores are molecules able to complex with a specific nutrient and transport it to the cell. This nutrient is

calcium potassium iron 9. A culture medium in which all the components are known is called complex defined differential 10. A culture medium that favors the growth of a specific organism is called complex defined differential selective 11. A culture medium that helps to distinguish between different groups of bacteria and may permit tentative identification of microorganisms is called complex defined differential selective 12. In both spread-plate and streak-plate isolation techniques, successful depends on spatial separation of bacterial species. True False