10 Ways to Avoid Making Silly Mistakes in Exams

Silly mistakes can make up about 5 or 6 marks in an exam – and that could cost a grade. Here are some techniques to improve accuracy and reduce silly mistakes.

It’s exam season! I have been marking some AS level exam scripts and have seen many silly mistakes creeping in.

Here are some tips to reduce silly errors.

1. Answer all parts of the question

A common error is to miss part of a multi-part question. Sometimes the question is quite small in a list or sometimes the last part does not get answered.

Leave 10 minutes at the end of the exam to check answers. Typically, at the end of a question, it says how many marks that part of the question has. Go through the questions and check that you have an answer against all of the marks.

2. Spelling and grammar mistakes

At the end of the exam, read through your paper to see if you can spot any spelling or grammar mistakes. You can the correct them.

3. Cross all ‘T’s and dot all ‘I’s and put in full stops

…Easy to do at the end of the paper!

4. On a graph, always mark and label the axes – Always!

It is easy marks – and failing to do this will score you down.

5. Include the units

A very simple mistake in Maths and Physics exams.

If you have to calculate a height, write in the unit as well as the answer.

For example, put in 5.5 metres – not just 5.5. You could lose a mark every time you make this mistake!

6. Watch out for minus signs

plus-minus-185One of the most common problems with maths papers is adding when you should be subtracting.

7. Rounding errors

It’s easy to get rounding up wrong. If the answer is 0.2657 and you round this to 3 significant figures, the answer is 0.266 – not 0.265.

This error could cost you a mark.

8. A 2-mark question always needs two parts to the answer

If you only have one, re-read the question and think about what else you could add.

9. Don’t know the answer to a question?

Don’t leave the answer blank. You get no marks for this.

Instead, write down all the facts that you know about the question. You may get lucky and pick up a few extra marks.

10. Get enough sleep

Don’t stay up late revising the night before. It will make you tired in the exam.

Get a good night’s sleep so that you are refreshed for the exam.

Making all of these silly mistakes could lower your score by 5% or 6% – that could easily make the difference of a grade, or even worse a pass or fail.

So, 15 minutes before the end of the exam… Make sure that you read through the answers and correct all of the silly errors!

Do you have any tips for improving accuracy in an exam?

Please leave your answers in the box below.


Published On: 27th May 2015

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  1. Great tips, thanks for sharing! I think that the most important thing when it comes to exams is to stay calm and concentrated.

    Abby Bristol 2 Jun at 10:27 am
  2. good

    alex 11 Jun at 9:44 pm
  3. Cool

    Memer bemer 5 Oct at 8:59 pm