Common Test Taking Errors

Many students do not know the following strategies on how to take tests and they consistently make errors. The list below includes common errors that may cause you to loose points on exams.

  • Changing test answers from correct to incorrect. Think carefully about the problem when deciding to change an answer. Your first answer is usually the correct one. Instead of erasing, draw a line through answers you want to discard. Use a pencil with no eraser is another option.
  • Getting stuck on one problem and spending too much time on it. Remember: do the questions that you marked as easy first, then the next hardest, and then the hardest for last.
  • Rushing through the easiest part of the test and making careless errors. If you have this habit, review the easy section first and then the hard ones.
  • Miscopying an answer from your scratch paper. During your test review, refer to your scratch paper and always turn in your scratch paper with the test.
  • Leaving answers blank. No answer will get you no points. Attempt the problem and write down the first step. The first step is the key to solving the problem.
  • Not understanding all the functions of your calculator. Learn your calculator functions.
  • Leaving the test early without checking your answers. You may get nervous as other students turn in their papers and you are still working problems. Do your relaxation techniques and keep working. [hyperlink to math anxiety module] The teacher is not grading on how fast you complete the test, but rather on your answers.
  • Do you miss more questions in the first third, second third, or final third of a test? Analyze your test and find out if you are missing more problems is a given section. If, for example, you are missing more problems in the final third, it may be that those problems are more difficult, that you are tired, or that you have run out of time and are rushing to complete the test. This understanding can lead you to make changes to how you approach the test. You may choose to review the last third of the test first.
  • Not completing a problem to its last step. Make sure you address this in the test review process.