3. Running Out of Time? Silly Mistakes?

1. How to avoid silly mistakes

Here are some of the key reasons that students make silly mistakes:

1) Not enough working out
Often you will make silly mistakes when you are trying to do too many steps in your head and not enough on paper. This opens the door to incorrect calculations and when you go back to the question later it’s much harder to follow. Do all the steps on paper so you don’t need to do anything in your head.

2) Doing too much at once
You may find that you are trying to figure out what formula to use, do the calculator and correct your answers all the same time – with so much going on in your skull, there is no wonder that you will occasionally write down something incorrectly. Figure out what formula you are going to use, do all the calculations on the paper and don’t try to check it at the same time. Do one thing at a time, and you’ll do a better job with less mistakes.

3) Stress
Here is a big factor to making mistakes and all sorts of things so check out the chapter on "How to Reduce Stress" to learn more.

2. If you run out of time in tests

Sometimes a student knows how to answer the questions but runs out of time in the test. Here are some of the reasons:

1) You get stuck on questions
People don’t like a mysteries and want them all to be solved – this is why it can be hard to move on from a question you haven’t answered. If you find it hard to move on once you get stuck, you need to practise moving on once you get stuck. If this is you, every time you hit a question that you can’t answer (even in your homework), you now must move on immediately. You’ll often find that the fact you have moved on means you are subconsciously working out the answer while you do other questions. This will save a lot of time.

2) You try to do too many things at once
If you are taking too long on questions it could be because you are being a perfectionist – you answer the question, but you are checking that you answer it correctly while you are answering the questions. This wastes a lot of time. A person is most effective when they do one thing at a time. To resolve this, stop checking that you are doing it correctly while answering the question – just answer the questions! You’ll get more consequential marks but answering all the questions than getting a few perfect. If you need to minimise the chance of you getting an error, just do all the working out. Once you have finishing going through the paper, you can then check all your answers and because you have full working out it will be easy to do.

3) You aren’t moving on quickly enough
Even if you don’t get stuck on questions, you might still be spending too much time “working out” a question. In your first time through, you should only answer the questions that you can answer immediately, if you can move on. Then move on to more and more difficult questions.

4) You aren’t practising doing tests enough
This is the most important. If you find that you can answer the questions but run out of time, then you need practise – but don’t practise doing questions, practise doing tests under test conditions. Only this way will you be able to find the correct speed for you to go through the paper and avoid running out of time. Do everything timed. Even your homework. Let’s start working on getting your speed up and working out what you and spending too much time on.

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