5 Most Common Mistakes Students Make on Tests

5 Most Common Mistakes Students Make on TestsIn my nearly 7 years now of being an after school enrichment teacher, I have given and graded many assessments, quizzes, and tests. And it seems every time, the same several mistakes happen, regardless of the student. The great news: all of these mistakes are easily preventable! In hopes of helping your student avoid these errors going forward, I have compiled a list of the most common mistakes students make on a regular basis.

Testing Trouble:
5 Common Mistakes Students Make

 1. Not Reading the Directions

So many mistakes I see come from the issue of not reading the directions, or assuming what the directions say. Get in the practice of always reading the directions thoroughly. And don’t stop there! Actually follow through on exactly what they say! This is a very simple way to maximize points.

 2. Not Following a Prompt

This is similar to not following directions, but it specifically comes into play where writing and essays are concerned. Many students already have a strong dislike of writing, and it seems that when it comes to writing longer responses or essays, they try and get it over with as soon as possible. That is a discussion for another day (or blog post), and there are ways to write quickly and well; however, the larger issue here is getting off to a good start.

I always tell my students that they could write the greatest, most interesting essay ever, but if it doesn’t follow the prompt, they won’t get any points. Remind your student to always read the prompt and write according to that prompt – no matter what.

3. Not Writing in Complete Sentences

Another writing issue (Is anyone noticing a trend?), this one isn’t necessarily reserved for long responses or essays. Many times, short answer questions require an answer to be in a complete sentence. This means that even if an answer is correct, a student can lose points if the answer isn’t in the proper format (even on math tests).

The best way to combat this problem is to get into the habit of always writing in complete sentences unless otherwise stated. This also helps build good writing habits in general, and the more a student writes this way, the easier (and faster!) it will become for the future.

4. Not Adding Proper Units

Venturing into math and science territory, I have seen many students lose points for not adding the proper units to an answer. This problem is one I see most frequently when it comes to math word problems.

Specifically, if we need to know that Johnny ate a total of 5 apples this week, then the answer needs to say, “5 apples,” not just, “5.” One way I try to remind my students to always add the proper units is to ask themselves, “What?” after writing an answer. “5 what?” “5 apples.”

5. Not Checking Answers

The final mistake on my list is probably the biggest one. In many cases, it seems that students are so excited and relieved to be “done” with a test (or even just homework) that they completely neglect to check their answers. However, this is a great way to find those little, unnecessary mistakes and correct them.

Maybe you spelled a word incorrectly, or maybe you forgot to add a unit or made any of the other mistakes on this list. That’s ok! Mistakes happen, and they are also how people learn, but checking answers before submitting a test can at least help correct the minor errors in order to maximize points. Stress to your student to get into the habit of checking his or her work, and watch his or her scores improve.

What do you think? What are the most common errors you see your student making on tests and homework? How do you help your student get into good test-taking habits? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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