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How do I stop making careless errors on physics tests?

  1. Oct 5, 2009 #1
    I just lost 20 points on my last physics test because of making stupid careless mistakes

    how can i cut down on these

    my teacher doesn't give partial credit

    on one question i thought it asked to find the maximum height, it turned out that it asked for the Range the object traveled

    another question asked about the centripital acceleration of somebody on the equator of the earth. i thought it said angular acceleration
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2009 #2
    Take your time. Sounds like you were in a rush. Read the questions twice
  4. Oct 5, 2009 #3
    let's say i didn't haave enough time to check
  5. Oct 5, 2009 #4
    Well, read the question and conceptualize next time.
  6. Oct 5, 2009 #5
    careless mistakes are not something you can each yourself to stop doing,. i remember last semester i made many careless mistakes in addition after doing the core work in math. it pissed me off when it knocked my grade down 6 points or more on a quiz. iasked a tutor what i could do and she said to take your time and check your work. just read each question twice and slowly before attempting it.
  7. Oct 5, 2009 #6
    It may seem that these careless mistakes are part of a "bigger" problem, like read the question more carefully etc. But i found a really good way to get rid of them, but a little pain-staking.

    Identify the questions or the "problems" or.. the "set of actions" you make these mistakes in, and simply tell yourself, actively the next time you get such a question or are asked to perform something like that, you will MAKE SURE you check.

    For example i had this problem that i made TWICE during the same exam. The question went something like, an object is moving at .37% the speed of light, find mass dilation, given mass. I found it, but i used 37% the speed of light, rather than .37%, got a nice 0 for that question.

    I'v written it into my notes, and revised it as another fundamental rule of physics. CHECK THE %. I can guarantee you ill never make that mistake again, in a question that asks for % i automatically double check it now.

    Ofcourse this doesn't completely eliminate you making NEW and IMPROVED careless mistakes, but it will cut the frequency making them.
  8. Oct 5, 2009 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Well, you clearly had enough time to get them wrong.

    First comment - it is a much better strategy to get 90% of the problems 100% right than 100% of the problems 90% right.

    Second comment - it will help if you start writing properly: capitalization, punctuation, complete sentences, and yes, even spelling. You need to develop more careful habits, and this is one area where you can and should work on it.
  9. Oct 5, 2009 #8


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    I have the same problem as you and i found out it's because i am nervous and do not re-read the question..it's a habit. However, it is easy to get rid of it.
  10. Oct 5, 2009 #9


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    Why not?
  11. Oct 5, 2009 #10
    Ok, I make a lot of small errors as well, but it seems as if you miss the question entirely sometimes.

    So I'll share with you an SAT tip I picked up that popped my total score 60 short of perfect.

    Box the part of the question that you need to "answer." That is, read through the question, and put a box around the final quantity you're being asked to evaluate. So, in your two examples, you would have boxed "distance traveled horizontally" and "centripetal acceleration". This usually takes 5 seconds, but prevents you from answering the wrong question (which is a big problem on a time intensive test like the SAT, and I think it applies here too).
  12. Oct 5, 2009 #11


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    Check units - make sure you have the formula the right way round!
    Do an order of magnitude estimate before entering numbers into the calculator.
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