Examinations are an essential part of the educational journey, and they can significantly impact a student’s academic performance. However, despite the importance of exams, many learners make common mistakes that can affect their performance negatively. This article will explore 16 common mistakes learners make during an examination. By identifying these mistakes, you can avoid them and improve your chances of performing well on your next exam. Let’s jump in!
Common Mistakes Before the examination
1. Not Knowing the Grades You’re Aiming for
One of the most significant mistakes learners make before an exam is not knowing the grades they’re aiming for. When learners don’t know what score they need to achieve in their final exams, they might study the incorrect amount for their exams.
To analyse how much studying is needed compared to the required marks, learners should first determine the grade they want to achieve in each class and identify the exams that will contribute the most to their grades. Next, learners should consider the weight of each exam and how it contributes to their overall grade. Learners should also assess their current grades and identify the areas where they need improvement. Once learners have determined which exams are most critical to their grades, they can allocate their study time accordingly. It’s essential to balance the time spent studying for each exam and to avoid focusing on one exam to the detriment of others.
2. Relying on Teachers to Prepare Them
Another mistake learners make – relying solely on their teachers to prepare them for exams. Although teachers provide study guides and exam review sessions, learners should take responsibility for their learning. Learners can complement what their teachers provide by reading ahead, asking questions, and seeking additional resources to deepen their understanding of the material. You can also consider subscribing to our e-learning software for further studies.
3. Not Starting Early Enough
Many learners intend to study for exams weeks in advance, but procrastination often gets in the way. As exams approach, learners find themselves cramming instead of learning. To avoid this mistake, learners should start studying early and create a schedule that allows them to pace themselves.
4. Studying in Chronological Order
Studying in chronological order is another mistake many learners make. Instead of studying the most important topics first, learners go through their class notes chronologically. This approach can be ineffective since learners might not have enough time to review the most recent topics, which are often the most challenging. To avoid this mistake, learners should prioritise and spend more time studying the most critical topics.
5. Using Passive Study Strategies
Many learners use passive study strategies such as reading notes and textbooks, which can be ineffective. Passive study strategies are not engaging and can lead to boredom and inattentiveness. Active study strategies, such as self-quizzing, are more effective since they engage the learner and promote retention. To avoid this mistake, learners should use active study strategies that require engagement with the material.
6. Not Testing Themselves on the Material
Testing oneself on the material is crucial in preparing for exams. However, many learners spend more time reviewing their notes rather than testing themselves. By taking practice tests, learners can identify their strengths and weaknesses and focus on areas that need improvement. To avoid this mistake, learners should test themselves frequently and use practice tests to prepare for exams.
7. Practising in the Wrong Format
Learners often study for exams the same way, regardless of the format. To avoid this mistake, learners should study using methods similar to the exam format. Suppose a student is preparing for a biology exam consisting of multiple-choice questions and essays. Using flashcards to memorise vocabulary terms might be a helpful strategy for the multiple-choice questions, but it wouldn’t help the student prepare for the essay portion of the exam. In this case, the student should also practice writing essays addressing the course’s key concepts and themes. This will allow them to think critically and express their ideas coherently in the essay format.
Similarly, suppose a student prepares for a maths exam with multiple-choice and problem-solving questions. In that case, they should practice solving problems that require the same skills and concepts tested in the exam. By studying using methods similar to the exam format, students can better prepare themselves for the questions they will encounter on the exam.
8. Reviewing Information They Already Know
Many learners spend more time reviewing topics they already know instead of challenging themselves with new concepts. This approach can be ineffective since learners might not have enough time to review the challenging topics they need to understand better. To avoid this mistake, learners should review the topics they’re less confident in and move on to the topics they already know once they are assured.
9. Sticking to Only One Place for Studying
Studying in the same place all the time can be monotonous and dull. It’s crucial to vary your study environment to improve memory retention. Changing study locations can enhance the mind’s cognitive functions by increasing blood circulation and promoting alertness.
Studies have shown that learning in the same place can lead to a phenomenon called context-dependent memory. This means the brain associates specific memories with the environment in which they were learned. Thus, studying in the same place can make recalling information in other settings more difficult.
Common Mistakes During an Examination
10. Careless Mistakes/Not Reading the Question Properly
Learners may rush through questions without reading them correctly during the examination, leading to careless mistakes. It’s essential to read and understand each question before attempting to answer. Learners should take the time to scan through the question, underline keywords, and make sense of the question before answering.
11. Answering a Different Question to the One Asked
Learners may become so stressed during the examination that they answer incorrectly. It’s crucial to understand the question and only provide the relevant information. To avoid this mistake, learners should prepare well for the exam, study past papers, and pay attention to how the memoranda expect the answer.
12. Tips on how to not panic during an exam
During the examination, learners may panic and feel overwhelmed by the stress of the exam. It’s crucial to remain calm and take a deep breath to reduce anxiety. One technique is deep breathing, which involves inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose, holding your breath for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly through your mouth. This technique can help slow down your heart rate and decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Another technique, called the 4-7-8 technique, involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds. This technique can help regulate your breathing and promote relaxation.
13. Failing to Plan Your Answers (planning for exams essay)
Learners may fail to plan their answers during the examination, leading to poor structure and flow. Preparing your answers before starting to write is crucial, particularly for essays. Learners should take five to ten minutes to plan what to include in each section and structure their arguments.
14. Failing to Plan Your Time
Learners may fail to plan their time during the examination, leading to poor time management. It’s essential to check the number of questions and the marks available for each question. Learners should spend less time on questions with fewer marks and more time on questions with a higher mark allocation.
15. Not Looking at the Mark Scheme or the Space Provided
During the examination, learners may fail to look at the mark scheme or the space provided, leading to incorrect answers. The mark scheme and space provided give clues about the examiners’ expectations. Learners should ensure their response fits the allocated marks and that they have answered the whole question.
Learners may over-generalise their answers during the examination, leading to inaccurate information. It’s essential to be specific and show an understanding of the limits of your statements. To achieve this, learners should use examples, statistics, or data to support their answers. They should also show an understanding of the limits of their statements and avoid making claims that are not backed by facts.
Preventing mistakes commonly made during exams:
- learners should check for spelling and grammar errors
- ensure their handwriting is legible
- and manage their time well.
These study tips can help learners avoid common mistakes and perform well on their exams.
Exams are essential to the educational journey, and avoiding common mistakes that negatively affect performance is critical. Learners should start early, prioritise the most vital topics, and use active study strategies that require engagement with the material. During the exam, learners should take the time to understand each question, plan their answers, manage their time well, and avoid over-generalising their answers.
These tips can help learners improve their performance and achieve their academic goals. Enrol now if you’re ready to improve your study habits and prepare for your next exam. Alternatively, explore our material further by reading about how to study effectively for exams.