Top Ten Common Mistakes Made While Taking Exams

Exams can be daunting so if you've got one coming up, take these tips from me about the most common mistakes and how to avoid them. I've been through this as well so I know about these mistakes. I haven't made them all, but that doesn't mean that I don't know them.
The Top Ten
1 Attempting the question before reading it thoroughly

I've done this before... So you see a question which looks so easy, you blaze through it thinking you'll get all the marks and then when you reach the end you check through your answers and think what the hell have I done here? That's not what the question said at all!

My maths teacher gave out M&Ms to the two highest scorers and the two most improved since our last exam. I would have been the second highest scorer if I had noticed that on one of the probability questions the spinner had two red segments

I do this every time now, before this mistake happened a lot!

I didn't even LOOK at the other options, this is me. 100 percent.

2 Leaving a question blank

This is the number one no-no of an exam. NEVER leave a question blank. If you do, you've thrown away those marks and for what? At least if you tried you might have gotten one of those marks... But leaving the question blank isn't going to get you anywhere.

I forgot to do a whole page once. The teacher counted it as everything wrong, but I probably would've gotten everything wrong if I actually did it anyways, so it's a win win!

One time, I forgot to answer a whole question and just skipped it, but the teacher still gave me points because she said she knew I could have done it! Yay!

Especially in maths. If you try you may get a point or two for steps, but none for no answer.

3 Not managing your time effectively

The best way is always to skip questions if you can't do them. You can always go back to them at the end and maybe you can figure them out otherwise you might waste the whole time trying to figure out something you don't know and get nothing.

Make sure to have time at the end of the exam to look back at your answers. Make sure to not spend too much time on a question. Utilise the time given in the exam to give yourself the most efficient method of answering the questions. Keep a balance between speed and carefulness.

That's a really big problem... I either write my exams quickly and do mistakes or I'm just running out of time!

Aah yes, my personal flaw. At least in mathematics and at times, science. That's why my grades are low on those

4 Accidentally picking the wrong answer in a multiple choice question

Make sure to look which answer you're choosing to avoid the mistake of picking "C" instead of "B" for example. Checking your answers after may help you find these little but costly mistakes.

Then you have to make a poor attempt to erase the mark, which will probably smudge all over, or is just there to stay

Use pencils then.

5 Overthinking a question

You look at a question, answer it and then think something doesn't look right. Sometimes it might be that you haven't read the question properly so in that case read it properly and answer the question. Other times it may be the exam panic getting to you and it makes you think that you answered a question wrong when you didn't. This leads to the overthinking and retraction of correct answers for the inclusion of wrong ones.

I hate this. Sometimes I take fifteen minutes on a problem that should take everyone else three minutes.

I hate this. The answer that I'm after is always right in front of me but I always plunge too deep.

Happens all the time

6 Not reviewing your answers

This should be in the Top 3.
You do the question, you maybe check it once too fast to actually find mistakes, move on.
You then finish the exam.
86% of students check it once WHILE they're doing the question and don't check the whole paper after they've finished it.
BOOM.
If you're Asian like me and you get a SLIGHTLY bad grade, boy are you dead.

What does santa do after making his list? He checks it twice, just like you should once finishing all the questions. If you don't check your answers over, who knows what mistakes you've made? You never know, you might have missed a whole page because they stuck together... Trust me, this has happened to me.

My English teacher gives me the death stare if I don't check my answers on a test a least eight times.

After I take a quiz or test I review at least 3x before turning it in.

7 Doing too much revision

Too much is just as bad as not revising at all. If you revise too long it may turn you into a procrastinator or a perfectionist and whilst you've been spending so much time on the first two questions trying to perfect them, you've only done 2 out of 15 of the questions and used up half the time already.

I have a hard time doing too much of it.

8 Not knowing the meaning of key words

By this I mean the "Explain" questions especially. Many people just describe for an explain question and pick up only 1 or 2 of the marks when there's 6 available. For an Explain question use PEE. (I have no idea why it's called that) Make a point, point out some evidence to support the point and then add an explanation for why this is the case. It's that easy but we all fall into the trap of key words.

Often the problem isn't knowing the meaning..., it's naturally trying to describe it using words

9 Using bad spelling and grammar

Some questions, especially those with more marks will want good English to be used. This means no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors as if these are included, the chance of getting full marks on these questions becomes very hard if not impossible.

I just can't with this one. I almost never do incorrect grammar and spelling because it is my biggest pet peeve and it's annoying as crap.

I personally do not know how I could make a bad spelling error because I normally check myself over

Ok grammar know it alls.

10 Not putting your name on the exam

And finally we have this failure. If you do this, all that effort you've put into the questions is probably going to go to waste because that invigilator who marks the exam papers doesn't know you just by your handwriting. Even if your handwriting is as bad as mine, the invigilator will still not know and you will fail because you made this stupid mistake.

Biggest disaster while taking exam, but not common.

Imagine not putting your name on the exam. Literally the easiest part

That's the first thing I do at all times.

The Contenders
11 Not showing your work

Teachers: If you don't show your work it's wrong!
Also Teachers: Give Barely any space to show work

At my school, if you don't show your work, you get no points!

12 Skipping questions when subsequent questions rely on that question
13 Not putting the correct unit of measurement on your answers

Gets me every time

14 Filling in the wrong Scantron circle

Sometimes, we're not allowed to write directly on the tests. Only the scant ron.

15 Trying to finish quickly
16 Not using margins
17 Failing to plan your answers
18 Overgeneralizing
19 Looking around during the exam

This is literally the worst - you're stuck on a question so you look up to see the stressful environment that completely throws you off your thoughts

20 Forgetting to indent
21 Handwriting a question that is supposed to be typewritten
22 Not switching the plus or minus sign when bringing a number to the other side of an equation
23 Not writing the date
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