Common Test-Taking Errors and How to Avoid Them
Many students find taking exams to be a stressful and nerve-wracking process. Even if you were given enough time to study, you might still find yourself worrying before the test. When this happens, you might also feel stressed in the actual exam. As such, you might be prone to committing careless mistakes. These mistakes might be common test taking errors that lead to middling results.
If you’re worried about dealing with these errors in the middle of a crucial exam, there’s no need to fret. After all, acknowledging these errors is half the battle, and we’ll go the extra mile by teaching you how to avoid making these mistakes in the future.
Continue reading to discover the most common test-taking errors and how to avoid them.
Table of Contents
Failing to Prepare Sufficiently
If there is one thing that will help you ace your exams, it’s preparation. Any diligent student knows this. If you study, there’s a better chance of you knowing what you’re actually doing during the test.
While you may find yourself feeling lazy about studying, it’s still the most obvious solution to taking major exams. You can’t expect to get a decent grade if you don’t prepare. Take the time to review your notes, and make sure you have everything you need (pens, calculator, test permit, etc.) during the exam.
Not Following Instructions
This is perhaps the most basic but one of the most overlooked common test-taking errors there is. Not following instructions can lead to a failed mark.
So, read the instructions carefully. Take care not to misunderstand or misread, or worse, outright ignore the guidelines.
If you’re serious about passing your exams, ensure that you go through the instructions carefully.
Rushing Through the Test
When taking a timed exam, it’s crucial to do your best to finish everything before the clock runs out. Of course, this does not mean that you rush recklessly through a test. Even if you’re confident with your overall knowledge concerning the exam’s topic, there’s no point in rushing. You’ll only increase the odds of failing the test if you push too hard and rush through the questions.
Ignoring the Clock
In the same vein, ignoring the clock is not a good idea. While it’s important to pace yourself, don’t be too relaxed. Don’t spend too much time on a question, especially if time is limited. If you’re unsure about an item, it’s okay to move to the next one and get back to the question later on. Overall, just keep track of time when taking a test.
Transferring Answers Incorrectly from Scratch Paper to Answer Sheet
This particular common test-taking error comes from carelessness. You could accidentally make a typo or interchange numbers or letters when you transfer answers from your scratch paper. You might also encircle the incorrect answer. It can be extremely discouraging to get specific questions wrong, knowing you had the correct answer on your scratch paper, so try to be thorough and review your answers.
Leaving Items Blank
You miss out on 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. When answering an exam, leaving any item blank means you’re getting it wrong no matter what. If you encounter an extra difficult or confusing question, and it’s taking too long for you to answer, move on to the one. But don’t forget to answer everything.
You can always make an educated guess. Just remember: any answer is better than no answer at all. After all, you never know if luck is also on your side.
Starting an Essay Without a Plan
The essay is usually part of an exam where students can stretch their creative muscles. Unfortunately, some students also tend to have so many ideas that their essays become all over the place. Their work can be too long, disorganized, and out of focus.
That said, if you try to start an essay without any plan, you’ll likely get a poor score. Considering how much an essay can contribute to the overall results, make a short and quick outline before writing. Ensure your essay is clear and concise.
Not Writing Legibly
It comes as no surprise that legible handwriting is mandatory if you’re going to pass your exams. Not writing legibly could lead to disaster, as your professor won’t be able to give you a passing grade if they can hardly understand your handwriting.
While there’s no need to push so hard for perfect handwriting, it’s still crucial to maintain a specific level of legibility to ensure the professor can read and understand your work.
Improve Your Odds of Success No Matter the Exam
There’s no need to worry about potentially failing your exam if you take heed of the common test-taking errors above. While it can be nerve-wracking to go through major exams like your midterms and finals, sufficient preparation can help you obtain excellent scores.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.