- #1

SF49erfan

- 24

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Had studied everything inside and out and ended up missing an A (got an A-/B+), due to very, very silly mistakes (of the arithmetic sort sometimes).

This has been a problem that's plagued me all throughout HS and even previous college math classes. I've rarely gotten 100/100 on exams, due to some "stupid" mistake, such as leaving out a "-" (negative sign) or forgetting to copy the squared sign down to next line (despite clearly having it on the line above), etc. All of this is despite having understood the material and having known how to solve the problems and done them perfectly a zillion times in practice at home (and if not, at least going back and fixing the silly errors). So, it's super frustrating to lay an egg on an exam, due to a very silly error.

This exam was different in that the professor was a bit more harsh in grading. So if you needed, say, a derivative to solve some lengthy problem and calculated it wrong from a silly error to start with, he'd dock you almost half or more than half of the exam points for that problem. This was regardless of whether your steps post-mistake were correct or not. It seemed from talking to two other students that those who got wrong a conceptual part of the problem (like literally not taking the right approach), but got their arithmetic and other "silly" stuff correct, had the same points taken off.

That sort of depressed me. I knew what was going on and made some silly mistakes, but got the same grade as someone who got their basic math right, but made what I personally felt were "bigger" errors in taking the wrong steps to solve a problem.

1.) Anyone gone through this and have any words of comfort and/or advice?

2.) Worth speaking to the professor about it? My fear is that he'd think I was point grubbing, but it does seem unfair (to me, at least) that I'd score the same as someone with larger conceptual mistakes.

3.) Do these errors ever go away for those of you in advanced maths? Do people in graduate school or senior level maths classes ever make "silly" mistakes (again, such as forgetting a negative sign or forgetting to distribute a negative inside of parentheses)?

4.) In the big picture, should I just forget about it and realize I made some silly mistakes and not sweat it?

(One final thing to add to what I mean by a "silly" mistake is that you clearly knew how to do it, but just made a mental, copying, or even "reading - as in misreading own writing - error vs. not knowing how to do a simple operation.)