By James White

A is for Adderall, B is for bullshit, C is for cheating, D is for desperation, and E is for Effort. These are the five keys to unlocking the secrets of the Scantron, thus achieving success in both college and life. If you’re a bad test taker, you are destined to end up living in a van down by the river, while your better bubbling peers go on to bigger and brighter things (like suicide-inducing desk jobs). This is because multiple-choice tests tell you exactly how smart you are. You may physically be penciling in the bubbles that correspond to 50 arbitrary questions, but that is just the surface action.

Multiple-choice tests ask more compelling questions on a deeper psychological level. Thing like, “Did you learn basic probability in third grade math class?” “Are you familiar with the concept of an educated guess?” “Did you remember to give yourself a mental advantage by packing a Red Bull and sufficiently masturbating before the exam?” If you answered yes to all these questions, then you’re looking at about a 60% without even opening the textbook. That’s respectably close to passing. If you can’t muster a C- from here you honestly don’t deserve it.

That being said, ill-gotten gains are the sweetest, and even the laziest of students can employ the following test-taking techniques to end up on the better end of that big bell curve. Just remember, passing a test is like convincing someone to do anal; it’s not a matter of wits, it’s all about strategy.

Bell Curve, or Abstract Penis?
No wonder the average person feels like they got fucked by the bell curve.

The most basic concept is the “most common bubble theory.” Every test has one bubble that seems to be more prevalent than all other bubbles. This is the single most important bubble you will need to recognize your entire life, followed closely by Mr. Bubble, who is known to make bath time lots more fun.

It goes like this: When you encounter a question that you don’t know the answer to, you begin by eliminating answers that you know are wrong. At this point, when struggling between two or three choices, you’ll often stress yourself out by assuming that if you think about it hard enough, you’ll learn the right answer. This is like trying to get rid of an erection by staring at the exposed thong of the girl in front of you—it’s just not going to work the same as putting a composition notebook in your lap and applying constant pressure. Stick with what works. Count up which bubble you have used the most on previous questions and go with that. It’s sound strategy. If you already eliminated that choice, go to the next most com mon bubble and so on.

Another factor to consider is line theory. Although it in no way refutes previous strategy, it certainly complicates matters. Looking down the Scantron, the more questions in a row that have the same answer, the less likely the next question will also have that answer. So if B is your most common answer, but the last 4 questions were all B, things aren’t looking so good. All good things must come to an end.

As you can see, recognizing patterns on these tests is crucial. If your teacher is particularly whacked out, there are a few other patterns you can investigate. If one of these patterns is evident, previous theories can be disregarded.

The most important thing to determine is if every single answer on the test is actually the same letter. It’s a rare occurrence, but you should walk into every test thinking positive. A closely related phenomenon is the “stairway to heaven,” which occurs when the answers follow a pattern resembling a staircase, such as A-B-C-D-C-B-A-B… Follow the staircase, good things will happen.

It is also worth checking for more abstract patterns. Take your completed Scantron and hold it an inch from your nose. Stare through the paper, allowing your eyes to blur, and then slowly move the paper away from you face. If the test is at arm’s length and you see a Bengal tiger with a dislocated kneecap, chances are the bubble representing that joint is a wrong answer.

One technique for the questions you cannot solve with patterns is a deviation from reverse psychology called “Retard Psychology.” Read over the question, and then ask yourself, “Which answer would I choose if I were a complete retard?” Cross that one out. Read over the test question again; respond like a retard again. Eventually you should end up with one answer that is the least retarded. You can’t miss.

The better you get at choosing a strategy and applying it, the better you will do on multiple-choice tests. Sometimes it just helps to know where you stand with a test. You can figure this out by taking all the questions you’re sure you got right and giving yourself a point. Then count up the number of questions you narrowed down to two choices, divide by two, and add that to your score. Follow this formula for adding in your probable points on the remaining questions, divide by the total questions, and you have your grade on the test based on what you know with no strategy involved. That’s your starting point.

Some people argue that it makes more sense to actually go to class, pay attention, and follow along with the reading as it’s assigned. Well that’s true, sometimes. If you’re taking an interesting class in your field of study, you probably should go to class, be studious, and try to learn the material. Then there are the general education classes. No one’s going to remember dick about the graphic writing systems of Mesoamerica by the time they graduate. The person who crams for eight hours the night before the test probably gets a similar grade to the student who spends three hours a week in class. I’m pretty sure you already know who’s using their time at college more effectively.

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