Which type of test is easier to take?
- Multiple choice
- Short answer (a.k.a. fill in the blank)
Most students would say that multiple choice tests are easier. Why is this? First, you don’t have to generate any possible answers—they are already on the page. Second, all you have to do is try each possible answer on and see what fits better. This simplifies the challenge to a mere comparison.
How could having multiple choices help us make better life decisions?
Putting Options on the Table
In a recent coaching session, one of my clients was considering a response to a business challenge. I asked him what other options he had considered, but he didn’t have any. He stopped exploring after he found the first possible solution, even though it didn’t suit him very well.
So together we brainstormed for alternatives. In the end he had 5 options on the table. Equipped with many options, he could try each one on for size, explore the fit, and make a good decision about how to proceed. He appreciated the freedom that came from playing with options.
More Ideas = More Creative
Creative people have a reputation for coming up with lots of ideas. They don’t stop at whatever comes to them first. Where are you limiting yourself by stopping the exploration after just one or two ideas?
What’s Testing You Now?
Think of challenging situations you’re dealing with in life. Are you tense about an upcoming conversation? Struggling with a conflict at work? Stressed from a difficult relationship? Here’s how you might approach it:
- Create Multiple Choices
If life is giving you a “short answer” question, try turning it into “multiple choice”. Write some options down, even if they seem silly or impractical at first—they often lead to something interesting. If you are feeling stuck, try viewing the situation from various angles for some fresh perspectives.
- Playing With Options
There is something playful, even childlike about considering options. Be open and curious, willing to experiment. Commit to the process, not just the result.
- Reserve the Right to Switch
Even if the option you choose doesn’t work like you hoped, you’re still not trapped by it! What options are visible now that you have taken a journey with the first one?
The “Right” Answer
One comforting thing about multiple choice tests is that the right answer is always on the page. But when we generate our own multiple choices, how do we know we are generating the right one?
One of the differences between a test and life is that in life there is often not just one right answer. Some are better than others. Some suit us, and come from values that really resonate with who we are.
Wisdom is proceeding with the option that works well for now and staying open to what we can learn from trying it.
Turning a challenge into a multiple choice question doesn’t mean life will become easy. But I have seen how playing with options can bring more relaxation, freedom and lower stress. You might be surprised at how you benefit from playing with the options!