Exam Strategies: True or False Questions

True or false questions are used on exams to quickly determine a student's understanding of facts, address misconceptions, and generate information recall. As there are only two possible answers, it is key that you read each question thoroughly.

When answering a True or False question, you must determine if everything the statement says is 100% true. If the entire statement is not 100% true, it is incorrect and must be marked False.

Understanding the trickier format types can help prepare you for this exam question style.

Check out our visual resource for "Test Taking Strategies: True or False" below!

What to Watch for
  • Double negative statements.
    • Example: It is not true that Newfoundland is not east of Toronto.
    • This style of statement can be confusing to read on an exam - make sure to always slow down and read carefully. When you spot a double negative, eliminate the two negative words and reread the statement; be mindful that this only works when there are 2 negatives.
      • With the elimination of the double negative, the example now reads as "it is true that Newfoundland is east of Toronto"
  • Overly complex or run-on statements.
    • Example: Newfoundland and Labrador is the most Eastern point of Canada, joined Canada in 1949, has a time zone 60 minutes ahead of PEI, and houses the L’Anse aux Meadows Viking colony.
    • These long, complex statements may mix incorrect information into the statement, which can be missed if not read thoroughly. In this example, we know the time zone is only 30 minutes ahead, so the statement is incorrect.
  • Absolute statements.
    • Example: All Newfoundland dogs have only black fur.
    • These types of statements allow for zero alternatives or discretion. In our example, someone unfamiliar with the dog breed may be unaware that Newfoundland dogs can have black, grey, brown, or white in their fur. Knowing this information, we would then determine the statement is incorrect as written.
  • “Sometimes” statements.
    • Example: There are often puffins in Elliston, NL in the summer.
    • This type of statement allows for mild exceptions to a rule and will typically be stated with a “sometimes”, “most of the time”, “often”, or “frequently” to allow that discretion. For this statement, we know we are likely to see a puffin in Elliston, NL, and that summer is also likely. However, it allows for discretion that you could see a puffin in Autumn or Spring. For these reasons, the statement would be true as the assumption it is making is correct.

Test-Taking Strategies: True or False [Visual Resources]

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California State University, Fresno. (n.d.) True/false test tactics. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved November 21, 2021 from https://studentaffairs.fresnostate.edu/lrc/supportnet/documents/truefalsetesttacticsA2.pdf

Umberger, N. (n.d.). Tips for true/false exams. Kansas State University. Retrieved November 21, 2021 from https://universitylifecafe.k-state.edu/bookshelf/academicskills/tipsfortruefalseexams.html 

University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Exam questions: Types, characteristics, and suggestions. University of Waterloo. Retrieved November 21, 2021 from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/developing-assignments/exams/questions-types-characteristics-suggestions