That time of year is fast approaching (in the Southern hemisphere anyway) when it will be time for exams. Some students will be more prepared than others for what they are about to face. It is however worth knowing what the 15 common mistakes students make with exams are so they can try to avoid making them. I have split this BLOG up into those mistakes students make in the planning and preparation stage as well as those they make in exams themselves.
15 common mistakes students make with exams
- not starting early enough – many students think they have lots of time to prepare and study for exams. Unfortunately this can be a trap and students convince themselves that it will be okay to not start today only to find that they end up running out of time and cramming. Studying for exams often takes more time than students anticipate, so make sure you get started early!
- reviewing information that you already know – students often spend time on studying or reviewing information that they already know. The best use of their time is to identify what they don’t know and work on strategies to ensure they learn this information.
- studying passively and not actively – you ask what does this actually mean? Studying passively is usually when students spend time just reading over their notes and textbooks until it is familiar. Where as actively studying is when you actually incorporate the passive study as well as spend time testing and quizzing yourself to see what you actually do or don’t know. Unfortunately most students actually spend more time studying passively than actively which really is not the best strategy.
- not actually studying or preparing in the way you are tested – click here to learn more about this in a recent blog that I wrote just on this point.
- not writing your name on the exam or test paper – I have seen this time and time again when working with students and this should be the first thing they do when they can actually start writing!
- not reading and understanding the question – this is vital and students need to ensure they use their reading time wisely to ensure they understand what the questions is actually asking them to do. When doing this students really need to take notice in particular of the key/command/prompt words in the question ie analyse, compare, describe…. Basically those words that tell you how you need to respond.
- starting to answer questions without any planning – It is important, particularly for any writing tasks, to plan the structure of your response/essay first. This will then assist you to know what you are going to say and in the right order and keeps you on track.
- running out of time – some students can find themselves running out of time and in many cases this links back to lack of preparation and planning when they should have spent time practising this with past exam papers. Ideally you want to have a plan of attack and strategy as to how you are going to break up and use your time before you enter an exam. Spending time on this prior to exams is a really useful strategy.
- Ignoring the clock – when in an exam another trap for students is not keeping an eye on the clock or following any such plan so they run out of time in general.
- leaving questions blank – where possible students should avoid this and always try to ensure they gain some marks rather than just giving up and leaving a response blank.
- not matching up questions and answers with multiple choice – this is a common mistake and really one that should be avoided. Students need to take care when responding to multiple choice questions.
- answering a question twice – this is common when answering multiple choice – make sure you have only selected one answer per question.
- ignoring a question because you don’t like it – when this happens and it does, students ignore the real question and write or respond with something else that often is unrelated to what is actually being asked of them.
- having enough supplies with you – students need to make sure they have additional pens or pencils with them as the last thing they want to happen is for the ink to run out and not have anything to write with. This seems so logical but not always on a students mind when going to an exam.
- leaving the exam room early – even if you think you are finished use the extra time to read through your answers and make sure that you’ve answered them to the best of your abilities. You may find during this time that you’d like to include additional information or points. You might also check over your spelling and grammar as well.
For more information to assist with exams the following blogs might also be of use:
If you would like further information about how I can support students please do get in touch.