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Strategies for Tackling Short Answer Questions

When professors prepare exam tasks, they like to use a variety of different formats. Some of them (such as short answer questions  ) check your critical thinking skills and intuition whereas others (including multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blanks tasks) assess your ability to memorize concepts and information associated with important dates or events. This article focuses primarily on how to write short answer questions but it is important to familiarize yourself with every type of question to know what may expect you on your exams. Each variation has its own strategies that make it easier for you to succeed if utilized correctly.

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Diverse Kinds of Questions

Basing exam sheets on different types of questions is one of the most popular assessment methods. To pass such exams successfully, you should be aware of the common types of questions and have a clear understanding of what they presuppose and how they should be tackled. To help you out, we have prepared a table describing the major question types, which you may come across when taking your exams:

Fill In the Blanks

In this type of exercise, you are given sentences or even paragraphs and asked to fill in the missing words. In some cases, you are provided with a box containing all of the words to choose from whereas at other times you have to figure it out on your own. You should be able to understand the context of the sentences to answer these problems correctly.

Word/Sentence Matching

These problems require you to match a list of words or sentences on the left side of your paper with a second list of words or sentences on the right. Sometimes you can be asked to pair up synonyms or definitions. You might also need to associate dates with events. The best strategy is obviously to choose the answers that you know first and then use the process of elimination to answer the questions that you are less certain about.


These types of questions are rather self-explanatory. You are given a statement and asked to indicate whether it is true or not. Often, such words as “always” and “never” may signify that the question is false since there are very few absolutes.

Close-Ended Questions

When answering this type of question, you are given a list of set responses from which to choose from and there is no leeway to provide alternative answers. This type of question is less applicable to exams and more likely to be given when a researcher seeks quantitative data.

Open-Ended Questions

In contrast to close-ended questions, these ones allow the respondent to answer however they wish. This allows you to offer your own personal insight on the matter. This is another type of question that is used in research, although for data of a qualitative nature.

Multiple Choice Questions

Without a doubt, these are the most common types of test questions that professors give their students since they make grading easy. MCQ is a question or statement followed by 4 or 5 possible choices, but only one correct answer. Sometimes the test-taker will also be given the option to choose “all of the above” or “none of the above.” While some students find this type of question to be the easiest since the answer is right in front of them, professors like to get tricky by including two choices that could both literally be true, but require the student to pick the one answer that is more true.


A common type of problem given to students who are studying English as a foreign language which involves changing the structure of a word so that it makes sense in the context of the sentence. For instance, Q: “Jack felt a lot of _________.” CONFUSE; A: “Confusion.”

Find and Correct the Mistakes

For this type of question, you are given a sentence containing grammar mistakes and are asked to form the sentence properly. In some cases, the person making the test might deliberately write a sentence in the correct form, which means that the test-taker has to be able to identify sentences that are in fact mistake-free.

Now, it will be easier for you to distinguish between the question types that may appear on your exam sheet and therefore give correct responses to each of them. If not, you can always address the team of for assistance. Our qualified staff will be glad to assist you.

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What Are Short Answer Questions?

These are the queries that require short answers, which may be either interpretive or factual or a combination of both. Students may come across them during the college application process and when doing regular tasks throughout studies. Short answer questions may be divided into two categories, i.e. those that require lengthy responses (more than 100 words) and short answers (less than 100 words). Talking about the application process, the former are mainly used to get information about students’ personality, their hobbies, favorite things, etc., while the latter are used to find out why students have decided to apply to a particular college. No matter the goals and length of such queries, they deserve meticulous attention whether they are a part of the application or an independent task assigned to students.

What Is A Short Answer Question Structure?

It can’t be said that short-answer questions have a strictly established structure. Their organizational mode mainly depends on their purpose. For example, answering short answer questions, you may need to complete the sentence, fill in a missing word, provide brief qualitative or descriptive responses, draw diagrams with some explanations, etc. Answering short answer questions, you are to give a response that consists of either one word or a few lines. The bulleted format is often with short-answer questions.

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Pros of Short-Answer Questions

It’s known that SAQs are used as one of the most popular assessment methods. However, is this means of testing students’ knowledge effective? Let’s discover the benefits of SAQs to see whether they can be put on the list of truly efficient assessment methods:

  • SAQs is a quick way of assessing students. Professors just need to calculate correct responses and that’s all.
  • In comparison with other assessment methods, SAQs are easy to construct.
  • SAQs can be used as a part of both formative and summative assessment.
  • Short-answer questions exclude guessing options. They require students to have a complete understanding of the course material.
  • SAQs are more objective and reliable than essay type questions. This is due to responses to such queries, which are presuppose to be definite.

The questions that require short answers help professors quickly test students’ skills and detect possible gaps in their knowledge. The most important thing is to know how to write short answer questions to make them clear to students.

Cons of the SAQs Method

From the objective point of view, we should discuss the disadvantages of the tests that require answering short answer questions. So, draw your attention to the following points:

  • Students may encounter difficulties when answering short answer questions because such queries may be constructed in a wrong way leading them to confusion. As a result, grading such tests may be complicated as well.
  • Using the rote learning method, students may memorize the SAQs. In this case, a short answer question technique can’t be considered on the most effective assessment methods. If professors want to thoroughly evaluate students’ knowledge, they should ponder over constructing some other question types.
  • The accuracy of the assessment results may be impacted by spelling skills. SAQs may contain some typos or wrongly placed punctuation marks what will lead to lower points.
  • Such questions don’t give professors an opportunity to make an objective decision about whether students are good at a specific topic or not. When answering short answer questions, students don’t have to provide examples or some explanations, only a mere response.
  • Checking students’ response to each short answer question, professors can’t properly assess students’ ability to express their thoughts and ideas in a clear manner because brief replies don’t presuppose it.

To make SAQs-based tests an effective and reliable means of testing students’ knowledge, each short answer question has to be designed and constructed carefully. As to students, they should be very attentive when dealing with such tasks. They need to know how to answer a short answer question (every single one) in the right way if they desire to get maximum points for such tests.

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Short Essay Questions: Important Points for Consideration

Now we have reached the main part of the article: strategies for SAQs. First of all, let’s talk about short essay questions. If you learn how to write a short essay, it will come in handy during the entire course of your academic career since it is a relatively common type of task.

Here are some strategies that can get you on the right track with your SAQs:

  • Study the most important concepts from the lectures and readings. During the semester, you are likely to be introduced to a lot of new terms and concepts. However, there are certain ideas that the professor will be inclined to place emphasis on. For instance, if a particular theory is regarded as one of the most important in the entire field of science (such as Pavlov’s classical conditioning), there is a good chance that you will need to discuss it in-depth. On the other hand, if a topic gets nothing more than a passing reference, it is not likely to be the subject of a short answer question.
  • Create an outline before diving into the response. Much like with an academic paper, if you sketch a rough outline of your short essay response, it will provide guidance and focus. You will be in a better position to lay out your arguments step-by-step and provide strong support for your points.
  • Do not be too brief, but do not make the response overly long either. Obviously, if you do not include enough information, your answer will seem incomplete. Still, you do not want to include too much unnecessary information. As a rule of thumb, a short answer essay should be around 200 words, but should never exceed 300. You goal should be to identify around three major points and provide some thorough analysis on each as opposed to listing, say, eight major points and writing very little about them.
  • When finished, take one last look before you turn it in. When a student finishes an exam involving SAQs, there is often temptation to rush up, turn in the test, and be done with it. However, if you have some time left over, take advantage of this by proofreading your answers to make sure they are logical and free of silly grammar and spelling mistakes. In the end, taking the time to make sure your answer looks good can really make a difference on your exam score.

These steps will help you approach your task in the right manner and get the desired grade. In case, it’s hard for you to cope with either open-ended questions or those of any other kind, contact us for assistance. Our team consists of qualified and experienced specialists who are aware of the peculiarities of different types of assignments and can help you with any of them.

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Steps on How to Answer Short Answer Questions

How to write a short answer question? How to respond each item correctly? What to do to earn maximum points? Don’t get bothered with these questions! We have prepared a list of helpful tips on how to handle SAQs. Have a look at the points listed below:

  • Read the queries carefully. To respond to a short answer question correctly, you need to read it carefully to ensure what is expected from you. Meticulous attention should be paid to such keywords as “explain,” “identify,” “compare,” etc. Thus, you’ll get a clue about the type of information to provide in your response.
  • Provide a concise reply. You shouldn’t include any irrelevant or useless information in your response. Just stick to the point.
  • Ensure your answers are understandable and clear. When dealing with SAQs, it’s important to make sure that your responses are written using clear language. Avoid complex and long sentences, vague statement, and technical terms. Just be precise and specific.
  • Give examples if applicable. Good examples or some details relevant to the matter can make your response more engaging. Just make sure you are allowed to provide those.

Handling the assignments based on SAQs may not be easy. However, with these helpful tips, you’ll get a better understanding of the nature of such tasks and their nature. If something is still unclear to you or you feel that the SAQs-based tasks are not your forte, consider using our services. We have already dealt with different tasks and are ready to assist you with yours. We guarantee:

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  1. Provide detailed instructions. Select a correct type of assignment, set the deadline, provide a topic, number of questions to be answered, etc.
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