Using a Process of Elimination in the TASP Reading Test
and the TASP Writing Multiple Choice


Remember for any multiple choice question you must read the question carefully so that you know exactly what the question is asking. You must read ALL of the question; sometimes students will come to a word in the question statement that gives them an idea of what the question is going to be. Instead of finishing the reading of the question, they will jump to the choices and try to choose an answer - without actually reading all of the question. This can be very dangerous because some very important words in the question may be overlooked and the question may be a little different from what the student expects. SO READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY. Then make sure you know exactly what the question is asking; you may want to whisper quietly to yourself your restatement of the question; that way you can make sure you understand what is being asked.


Using a process of elimination in choosing the answer on multiple choice tests really means reducing your choices. You will usually be faced with 4 choices - A, B, C, and D. What you want to do is to eliminate the answers that you know are wrong so that you are faced with only 1 or 2 choices - thereby greatly improving your odds of being right. When you use a process of elimination, you work through each answer and determine if you can eliminate that answer from your choices.

However, sometimes you may not be exactly sure whether an answer is wrong so that you can get rid of it. So what you want to do in that case is to compare one answer to another and determine which answer is "more wrong" than another.

There is a very simple and easy way to do this. You use a system of check marks with a plus or minus attached.

For example: Let's say that you were reading the following paragraph from Barron's How to Prepare for the Texas Academic Skills Program in Chapter 6.

Passage 4

Money bewitches people. They fret for it, and they sweat for it. They devise most ingenious ways to get it, and most ingenious ways to get rid of it. Money is the only commodity that is good for nothing but to be gotten rid of. It will not feed you, clothe you, shelter you, or amuse you unless you spend it or invest it. It imparts value only in parting. People will do almost anything for money, and money will do almost anything for people. Money is a captivating, circulating, masquerading puzzle.


Which of the following best describes the writer's primary purpose in writing this selection?

  1. help readers learn to manage their money
  2. ridicule those who spend money foolishly
  3. list the uses of money
  4. explain the nature of money

We understand that we are looking for the writer's purpose for this selection. So we systematically go through each choice.

Choice A is not too bad so we place a checkmark by that answer. We say, "Well, I don't know for sure, but it might be the answer."

As we evaluate choice B, we compare it to Choice A. Is A better than B? We think so; it doesn't seem that the author is trying to ridicule people who spend money foolishly. So we put a check mark followed by a minus next to B.

Then we look at answer C. This says the major purpose is to list the uses of money. There is a lot more in the article about money than just the uses. When we measure this answer against answer A, we find it less on target so we just put a checkmark followed by a minus next to C.

Then we look at answer D. This says the purpose is to explain the nature of money. That is a pretty good answer. The author does talk a lot about that. Then we measure this answer against A; if we think this answer is better than A, then we choose D and our work is over because we have eliminated all the other choices.

If we are still not sure then we can measure A and D against each other. The good news is that by using a process of eliminating the less correct answers as we go, we only have two answers to choose between. We have at least a 50% chance of getting the answer right !

To make a final choice, we might go back and reread the selection looking to see if it is more like A - an article on how to manage money - or like D - an article on the nature of money.

The article touches on how to manage money but it is really about the nature of money so the correct answer is D.

This is the process to use throughout any multiple choice exam. First you read the selection carefully - perhaps even making very brief marginal notations of the subject of each paragraph ( if there is no penalty for marking on the exam). Then read the question all the way through to the end to insure that we know exactly what is being asked - maybe even restating the question in your own words quietly to yourself.

Then read each answer starting with A and measure them against one another trying to eliminate the answers that are less correct. You can use any grading system to do this - the checkmark system is just an easy one to remember. In this system, you use a checkmark if you think the answer could be right; a checkmark with a plus if you think the answer is a good one; and a checkmark with a minus if the answer is not so good.

The whole idea of using a process of elimination is to reduce your choices so that you have a better chance of choosing the right answer.