The Biggest Test Taking Mistakes #1

by Julie Baird on May 17, 2010

Number # 1 : Answering Questions in Order

This is one of the biggest mistakes that most students make while taking tests.

So why shouldn’t you do the test questions in order?

To begin with, you have to realize that every exam has questions that differ in difficulty level. This is one fact that will always be true regardless of what subject or class you take or which teacher or professor is giving the test.

Some questions are easy, some are hard and some feel like they are near impossible to solve.

Also, you can’t predict the order in which these questions will be given on the exam. That means that you can never know whether your professor will make Question 1 the easiest question, or the most difficult question.

So why do most students start with Question 1?

What if Question 1 just happens to be the most difficult question on the test? If you start with this question, chances are high that you will get really discouraged, stuck, and you may even give up on the whole exam.

Starting a test by beginning with the most difficult questions can hurt your grade in several ways.

First, it will really discourage you. It will frustrate you and may even cause you to mentally give up on the whole exam. This exaggerates the test anxiety found in most students.

It may also cause you to spend too much time on the question so that you don’t have enough time to answer the rest of the questions.

This will cause you to lose a lot of points, because no matter how easy the rest of the questions are, you can never get a good grade if you don’t finish them.

I learned this lesson the hard way during a math exam. I struggled my way through the toughest questions, found out I only had 5 minutes left and on turning to the last few questions realized they were really easy, but I had run out of time.

ALWAYS start with the easiest questions on the test.

When you first see your test paper, scan through all the questions. Pick the one you feel is easiest and get going. This will help you to do better for 2 main reasons:

  • It will help you build confidence. After answering all the easy questions, you will have built so much confidence that you will have a better chance of solving the more difficult test problems.
  • It will help you finish the test, because you won’t be wasting time getting stuck on the difficult questions.

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