Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Math Tests

  1. Oct 8, 2004 #1
    When I do tests in Math I always seem to make one or two mistakes. This is sometimes because I failed to memorize something properly, but not often. I always understand the concepts.

    My main problem is what many people would call "silly mistakes". I always seem to do something that prevents me from getting the 100% or even sometimes, the over 95% that I want. For example: Today on a probability quiz I got 9.5/10. I lost .5 because I multipled 15 and 15 instead of 15 and 16. I had even wrote down 16 and 15 on the page as denominators.

    Also, on an Alegebra quiz I messed up somewhere and correctly found all the restrictions but I failed to result in getting an answer of -1. I took a longer route which might've been part of the problem.

    Anyway has anyone dealt with the problem of "silly mistakes", any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2004 #2
    Double check all the question.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  4. Oct 8, 2004 #3

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Unfortunaetly silly mistakes have always been my downfall; the number of times that I have lost a minus/plus sign on the way! If you have a tendency to do this as well then Bob's advice is the only remedy I know.
     
  5. Oct 8, 2004 #4

    BobG

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I don't have any experience in making errors :rofl: , but I've heard of some solutions.

    Neatness definitely helps (one of my sons constantly made silly mistakes and one look at his papers told you why - I don't know how he was able to read that mess)

    It's usually best to complete all the problems first, then start your double checks. A little time between the first calculation and the second helps to keep you from just remembering what you did the first time and repeating it. If you're pretty fast, you can just use a piece of scratch paper to do the whole test over and compare your answers. If they're different, it's not that hard to find which one has the 'silly' mistake.

    Usually, on a test, you don't have the luxury of letting enough time pass to really forget the process you went through the first time, but it helps. If you can do your double check the next day or a couple of days later, you have a better chance of catching the 'dumb' mistakes.

    Estimating at least keeps even your mistakes in the general ball park. Also, going through the calculations in your head, only keeping track of the least significant digit, catches some of the mistakes, kind of like a checksum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2004
  6. Oct 8, 2004 #5
    Good Points. Listen to this guy. He knows what he is on about.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  7. Oct 8, 2004 #6

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    two bobs? Does..not......compute :confused:
     
  8. Oct 8, 2004 #7
    We aim to confuse. :biggrin:

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  9. Oct 8, 2004 #8

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I never relaized that there were two Bobs on the board! the simlairity n your first names cobfused me into thinikng thta there was only one poster named Bob.
     
  10. Oct 8, 2004 #9

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I've always been a sucker for "silly mistakes" :redface: I think the first math test that I actually scored 100% on, is the one here, in the Quizzes section.
     
  11. Oct 8, 2004 #10
    I heard similar advice from tons of people and my conclusion is this is not really any kind of help at all, so sorry I have to say that, because it can only be applied to small tests. with a limited number of questions being raised to ask the students. When the test, however, contains a lot of different problems that needs different computations, students usually wouldn't have any patience to go back from the first to re-check the whole stuff especially if the exam is considered important and when they have only a small amount of time left.

    I guess we make such a small silly mistake because we are busy. A few days ago I had a test and 3x3=6 was the result I gave my professor. Good as I am :redface:
    Hey are you still alone, its getting colder these days ? :biggrin:
     
  12. Oct 8, 2004 #11

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I wonder what's so special about 3. That was always my downfall for silly mistakes... 3x3=6; 3+3=9 :grumpy: I always seemed to lose a half point for that.
     
  13. Oct 8, 2004 #12
    Double, triple, and quadruple check.
     
  14. Oct 9, 2004 #13
    On tests I actually go back and triple or quadrouple check everything.
     
  15. Oct 9, 2004 #14
    It is something you have to learn. You must check everything in what time you have. I made some really silly mistakes in class the otehr day and if I had of looked back and not been so up with myself think 'I must have it right' then I would have realised before my teacher came over and stopped it in seconds. It does help, I know it does (will explain in next section):

    I did well in my GCSE Higher Maths paper because of checking. Once you know the principles of mathematics it is really very simple. I took my 2 hour long paper and worked through it to find that I have finished in 40 minutes. I was shocked and annoyed that I had to wait for so long so I started to check it, because I must of had something wrong to have got through it so fast. I checked it four times and on the third check (Wait for it Motifs) I found a simple mistake that would have lost me about 2 marks.

    All of this checking (and revising, which is another thing that helps silly mistakes) got me an A* in Maths. :biggrin: So it is worth checking but you have to learn your own style of checking as we all make different mistakes and that is what you have to learn, what mistakes you make and therefore what of your work is most important to check.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  16. Oct 9, 2004 #15
    You should try to develop a sense of what the answer should "look like". For instance 15x16 is multiple of 5 times even number and so is going to end in zero.

    I would echo the plea for neatness. You should write your work on the basis that it is meant for someone else to read - you should use standard notation etc.. Thinking "I know what I mean" and ending up with what is essentially a page of rough notes is a breeding ground for mistakes.
     
  17. Oct 9, 2004 #16
    Plus, if you can't read your own writing two things might happen. One, you mistake a number for another and do the problem. Even if you did it right, it won't be since you copied the wrong problem. Two, if you can't read it, what makes you think the professor can?
     
  18. Oct 9, 2004 #17

    Hurkyl

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Instead of checking your work, one thing I often do is redo the problem, preferably in a different way than I did it the first time. If the answers match, you're good to go!
     
  19. Oct 9, 2004 #18
    I had never thought of this, mainly because we are only taught one way of doing thinks. That will help me in the future. Cheers. :biggrin:

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  20. Oct 9, 2004 #19

    BobG

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Alas, the other Bob is the copyrighted version, while I'm just a cheap clone. :frown:

    So who else is the clone - Chrono or chronon?
     
  21. Oct 9, 2004 #20

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Don't forget Chronos :wink:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?