How to Stop Losing Marks to Careless Mistakes in Your Maths Exam

How to Stop Losing Marks to Careless Mistakes in Your Maths Exam November 18, 2021

Have you ever revised extra hard for your Maths exam and sat through it like a breeze, only to discover that you lost too many marks from careless mistakes? One of the worst feelings is to find that big zero on a question you would have scored full marks on, simply because of one small mistake. What’s even worse is if that tiny mistake cost you an entire grade.

It is human to make mistakes and all of us have done so at some point. However, to score well in your Maths exam, it is important to minimise careless mistakes so you can get the score that you should have.

At our Maths tuition in Ang Mo Kio, we frequently encounter students who ask us for the best way to eliminate careless mistakes when doing their Maths paper. One of the aspects we pay special attention to at our Mathematics tuition centre is preventing careless mistakes from happening and saving students their precious marks, which can help you jump up an entire letter grade or more.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even the best of us at the Mathematics tuition centre still make mistakes from time to time, but with enough practice, it is possible to largely reduce the frequency and severity of your careless mistakes. You may find yourself making errors while revising your work, which helps you to be aware of the common mistakes you tend to commit. This way, you can go through the steps carefully and work on avoiding these mistakes in the real exam. Eventually, even if you do make mistakes in the exam, you will be able to identify them quickly and correct them, saving you time for the rest of your paper.

Double-Check Your Work

Make it a habit to check your work after completing your paper – or even better, after you complete each question. If you are struggling to finish your paper on time, try to practice your weaker question types so that you can solve each question faster and leave ample time to double-check your working and answers. Look out for keywords in each question, especially the word “not”, which can often change the entire meaning of a question. Ensure that you have answered every part of a question and arrived at an accurate answer. For instance, unless the question asks for it, it is better to use exact values – that is, not rounded off – in subsequent calculations for the question. Since some question parts reuse your answers in earlier parts of the question, getting a wrong or inaccurate value early on can result in far more marks lost.

Check Your Answers Against Common Sense

Most Maths problems, especially word problems, tend to have a reasonable answer range that you can use to determine if your answer is off. For example, it is common sense that the age of a person cannot fall in the negative range, and it is probably not in the hundreds either. Obtaining such an answer in the context of a person’s age should be a red flag that you may need to check your working again. Similarly, if you are calculating the value of an acute angle and your answer is negative or greater than 90 degrees, you know that something probably went wrong somewhere. Practice is key here – after doing enough practice questions, you tend to have an idea of the numerical ranges that your answers should fall into for each question type. When in doubt, check with our tutors at your Maths tuition in Ang Mo Kio.

Write Legibly and Clearly

Sometimes, careless marks can be lost not because of a calculation or copying error, but because the marker could have misinterpreted your handwriting. To leave no room for error, it is important to write your working as clearly as possible. If you are using a ruled paper, leave a blank line in between each line of working. You should also write large enough to be considerate to older markers who may have trouble reading very small handwriting. Ensure that any variables, such as “i”, “o” and “t”, are written so that they cannot be accidentally mistaken for numbers or other characters. While you may get the benefit of the doubt in some cases, it is still better to be safe than sorry.

Rest Well Before the Exam Day

Practice is definitely important, but all those hours can come to nothing if you are unfocused and tired on the day of your paper. So instead of staying up late to cram an additional few hours of revision in, make sure you get an early night. In addition to keeping you more alert and less prone to making careless mistakes, you’ll also be able to remember your concepts and formulae better. All in all, it’s a win-win!

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