A good way to work through the athletic training Board of Certification (BOC) exam is to have foolproof strategies for working through both the questions and the answers you have to choose from. The key to maximizing your performance on test day is to have a solid foundation of content knowledge and to practice putting that knowledge into practice. By building up and strengthening your content knowledge, you’ll find that the strategies you use will help you sift through distracting questions and traps to come up with the best answer faster.
We’ve already gone over strategies for approaching the question, so let’s take a look at how we can strategize eliminating the answers until you get the right one.
Answer Selection & Elimination
The most obvious strategy to start with is to identify and eliminate clearly incorrect answers. Through a process of elimination, you can often quickly identify the correct answer. However, sometimes an answer choice may appear to be correct when it’s not. The BOC exam writers often put more than one plausible answer choice on each question. Take the time to read each answer and ensure that the other answer choices are not equally obvious. If you pace yourself, it’s best to read each answer choice carefully rather than quickly choose the response that you believe to be correct without checking the others. Don’t panic if you eliminate answers and the remaining answer is clearly wrong. Start over and reconsider your answer choices or re-read the question. You might have missed something on the first pass-through that you’ll catch the second time.
Answer Choice Families
Answer choice families are 2-3 answers that are very similar, but cannot all be true at the same time. If you see two options that are parallels or direct opposites, typically, one of them is the correct response. For example, if one answer indicates that something is increasing, while another response indicates the same thing is decreasing, then those answer choices are within the same answer choice family. An answer that doesn’t fall within the answer choice family is more likely to be incorrect. While most questions on the BOC exam will not have answer choices families, you should be prepared to recognize them if this style does show up.
The BOC exam writers will often include answers that are factually correct but do not answer the question being asked. You are trying to find the response that answers the question, so stay focused on what the question is actually asking for. Always go back to the question and make sure the answer you’ve chosen actually answers the question and not just simply something that is ‘true’.
Answers that proclaim controversial ideas as established facts or extreme actions as a standard practice should be avoided in general. There’s a bigger chance that an answer choice that says, “The process should be used in certain situations if…” is right than one that says, “It should be stopped completely.” Unlike the second choice, which is far more extreme, the first is a calm, rational statement, but it doesn’t even make a definitive, uncompromising stance, using the hedge word to provide some wiggle room.
Once you see a choice that seems to answer the question well, mentally select that one. It’s not your final answer, but it’ll help you evaluate the others. You can judge each answer choice against the one you chose. Compared to your benchmark, every other answer choice must be evaluated. Until another answer choice beats it, that choice is correct. If you find a better answer, that’s your new benchmark. The final answer is when you decide there’s no other choice that answers the question as well as your benchmark.
Predicting the Answer
Often, it’s best to predict the answer before you look at the answer choices. By coming up with the answer yourself, you’ll avoid distractions and traps because you’ll know what to look for. There’s no guarantee the right answer choice will match what you came up with exactly, but it should be close. It’s still a good idea to read each option, even if you’re sure you have the right answer.