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Thread: How to Stop/Reduce the Number of Stupid/Careless Mistakes?

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    How to Stop/Reduce the Number of Stupid/Careless Mistakes?

    My greatest problem in maths tests is my ever-present amazing ability to perform an amazing feat; to make the stupidest mistakes possible. And by stupid, I mean STUPID.

    For example, in my first prelim maths exam a few weeks ago, there was a question regarding absolute values worth 7 marks in total. It was about working out the different regions on an absolute value graph from a given equation then graphing it and using the graph to work out the following question. You see, for that one, I managed to figure out the equations correctly (hooray!) BUT I forgot how to draw lines. That's right, I forgot how to draw simple, y=mx+b lines and which way negative lines sloped towards, so I lost 5 of those 7 marks ( :'( ). But anyway, that was an extreme example of my idiocy and carelessness.

    Of course, there are the usual slip-ups like forgetting to simplify completely or entering the wrong numbers into the calculator, but still- just- how would I stop making these stupid mistakes?

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    Re: How to Stop/Reduce the Number of Stupid/Careless Mistakes?

    I feel as though this is an age old question that will persist until the end of time. The unanswerable, almost seemingly unavoidable "Silly mistakes."

    I will, however, try to shed some light on how you can decrease your chances of making one of these "silly mistakes."

    Practice doing questions at home to a standard that you wish to replicate in exams, and make sure to always adhere to this. Mark your work thoroughly and catch "Silly mistake" trends that are forming so you can correct them and make a mental note of the issue. Some of the mistakes may be easier to avoid than others.

    Common mistakes:
    Typing things wrong into a calculator? Do it SLOWLY, and maybe even repeat the calculation to ensure you put it in correctly.
    Failing to do mental arithmetic? If it is confusing, use a calculator.
    Forgetting to simplify? Make a note of ALWAYS simplifying as far as you can in practice questions, so this becomes habitual and you are more likely to remember to do so in an exam.

    Specifically for your 5 marks lost (Or rather, not gained), it would have been beneficial to have left the question if you felt unsure, and moved on with the exam. This gives time for your subconscious to solve the problem from its bank of knowledge, and potentially avoid the mistake altogether.

    The benefit here is that you are still in prelim, so you have a while to form positive study habits (More specifically, positive mathematics habits). But remember not to undermine all mistakes as silly, as some will be conceptual and this will need re-learning or revising.

    P.S. I still make silly mistakes xD
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