Eliminate Wrong Answers
We’ve already said that if you can eliminate one answer
in a question, the scoring odds are in your favor, and you should
guess. This means that you shouldn’t skip a question juts because
you realize you don’t know the right answer. Before skipping any
question, check to see if you can at least eliminate an answer.
For every question, you should go through a checklist of priorities:
- First priority: Answer the
- Second priority: If you don’t know the answer,
try to eliminate answer choices and then guess.
- Third priority: If you can’t eliminate any
answer choices, move on to the next question.
On most questions, there will be at least one or two answer
choices you can eliminate. There are also certain styles of question
that lend themselves to particular processes of elimination.
The weakness of classification questions is that the same
five answer choices apply to several questions. Invariably, some
of these answer choices will be tempting for some questions, but
not for others.
Questions 1–3 relate
to the following molecules:
||Contains the nitrogenous base
||Acts as storage for long strings
||One side is hydrophilic, while
the other is hydrophobic
For instance, you can be pretty sure that uracil doesn’t
appear in protein, carbohydrates, or phospholipids, since nitrogenous
bases are only found in RNA and DNA.
Another point that may help you guess in a pinch: you’ll
rarely find the same answer choice being correct for two different
questions. True, the directions for classification questions explicitly
state that an answer choice “may be used once, more than once, or
not at all,” but on the whole, the ETS people shy away from the
“more than once” possibility. This is by no means a sure bet, but
if you’re trying to eliminate answers, you might want to eliminate
those choices that you’ve already used on other questions in the
If you’re wondering, the answers to the above questions
are 1 E, 2 B, and 3 A.
Don’t worry if you didn’t know these answers. After reading this
book, you will. The same goes for the following example questions.
“EXCEPT” questions are five-choice multiple-choice questions
that contain a bunch of right answers and one wrong answer. The
questions always contain an all-caps EXCEPT, LEAST, or some other,
similar word. Even if you aren’t sure of the answer (which is actually
the wrong answer), you should be able to identify one or two of
the answer choices as true statements and eliminate them.
birds are characterized by all of the following EXCEPT
||strong, heavy bones
||eggs protected by hard shells
||evolved from reptiles
Perhaps you’re not sure which of the five answer choices
is wrong. But you should be able to identify that birds do lay
eggs protected by shells and that they evolved from dinosaurs. Already,
you’ve eliminated two possible answers and can make a pretty good
guess from there.
If you’re interested, the answer is B: the
bones of birds are extremely light. Heavy bones would make flight
much more difficult for birds.
“I, II, and III” Questions
“I, II, and III” questions are multiple-choice
questions that provide you with three possible answers, and the
five answer choices list different combinations of those three.
population of animals is split in two by the formation of a river
through their territory. The two populations gain different characteristics
due to the different natures of their new habitats. When the river
disappears, the two populations can no longer interbreed. What has
I. Natural selection
II. Convergent evolution
||I and III only
||II and III only
||I, II, and III
There’s an upside and a downside to questions like this.
Suppose you know that the scenario described by this question does
involve speciation, but you aren’t sure about natural selection
or convergent evolution. The downside is that you can’t get the
right answer for sure. The upside is that you can eliminate A and B and
significantly increase your chance of guessing the right answer.
As long as you’re not afraid to guess—and you should never be afraid
to guess if you’ve eliminated an answer—these questions shouldn’t
be daunting. By the way, the answer is C: changes in
organisms’ characteristics due to changes in habitat are a result
of natural selection, and the inability of the members of a former
population to interbreed after being separated for a long time is