In Pakistan, we need to practically apply what we learn during our education. Conceptually understanding what we read is better than simply reading or memorizing. Most of us are already aware of this. However, what is seldom discussed is gaining the most from the experience of test-taking itself. Let’s take multiple-choice questions (MCQs) as an example. Apart from helping us achieve good results (if we do well), they enable us to develop and nurture a winning mindset along with certain useful skills and abilities. So what exactly do MCQs teach us, and how can they help us in our lives?
1. The Process of Elimination (POE)
While preparing for an important examination, I encountered this important strategy called the Process of Elimination. It basically refers to canceling out all the wrong choices to arrive at the correct answer. Answering the MCQs using this strategy makes it much easier to do so. In fact, at times, the examiner designs the MCQ in such a way that the only way to answer correctly is to eliminate the incorrect options. Moreover, sometimes in MCQs,all options are correct, but we must opt for the most appropriate one (choose the best option). Again, using the Process of Elimination, we can eliminate the rest and choose the one that is most apt. In our day-to-day lives, this can be implemented effectively to our advantage.
To illustrate, let`s say (hypothetically) that we must arrive at a particular location on time. There are three possible routes to do so, and all three have some kind of unavoidable issue. They are, however, the only options available. As a result, we are confused about which route to take. We are likely to logically base our decision on factors such as possible traffic, time, distance, etc. The Process of Elimination can come to our aid in such a situation. By applying it, we can initially eliminate the route that is likely to be the most problematic for us. Then, we can cancel the option that is relatively worse. Naturally, we will be left with no choice but to go with the least problematic option (the best among the worst).
2. Response time
MCQs not only test our ability to answer correctly but also our potential to do so in a timely manner. In other words, they test (and help us improve) our time management skills, which are pivotal for growth in professional as well as personal life. In examinations, the performance of a test-taker is assessed on the basis of the correct responses (in a limited time). I believe that those students who learn to manage both accuracy and time are the ones who succeed in practical life too. It can be termed efficiency, and it is mastered with time and practice. Our own value and that of our work are based on how effective, efficient, and credible we are.
Let’s assume (hypothetically) that we are asked to prepare a marketing research report for a company that we work for. Suppose that we are required to do it as early as possible without compromising on the quality of the report. Thus, time and quality are both important in this scenario. We can successfully execute it only if we are efficient and effective. For a high-quality report, more time is required. Likewise, if the time to complete the report is reduced, then its quality suffers. In other words, it is a trade-off. The optimal solution, therefore, lies in balancing both time and accuracy (quality). By doing so, we can submit a high-quality report in a reasonable time frame.
3. Read and understand the questions carefully.
Most of us must be familiar with this advice. In MCQs (and even other types of exam questions), we need to first comprehend successfully what is being asked for. Then, only we can respond appropriately. Another reason why it is important to read the question carefully is because, at times, the answer to that question lies in the question itself! In practical life too, we need to understand the problems carefully to resolve them. The same applies for dealing with people. Unless we understand them first, we cannot manage or deal with them effectively.
This is why, I believe, we are advised to listen and observe more in the practical world too. It helps in the resolution of our issues and also signifies wisdom and intelligence. On the contrary, most of us simply react to both people and circumstances in our lives. Rather, we should be responding to them. Leaders. Entrepreneurs and other successful people all follow the same path. Just as understanding the MCQs and giving the correct answer leads to a high exam score, a grasp over our problems (in real life) results in achievements. Likewise, difficult people (or groups), just like tough questions in a test, can also be tackled effectively. In fact, this is part of effective leadership.
It is extremely beneficial to implement the skills that we acquire during the test-taking process. These not only facilitate the advancement of our careers professionally but are also useful in our daily lives. In Pakistan, we need to develop, hone, and harness these skills and abilities to progress individually as well as collectively. Above all, we need to understand that a process itself (and what it gives us) is more important than the outcome. In the words of Zeg Ziglar,
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”