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Academic Assistance Center > The Six Types of Test Taking Errors
The Six Types of Test-Taking Errors

Analyzing your test taking by reviewing past tests can be of great help to get better test scores in the future. Take time to check for common mistakes, identify problem areas from the following types of test-taking errors, and plan to implement the following suggestions to remedy these common errors to have a more successful approach to taking tests.

  • Misread direction errors - these errors occur when you skip directions or misunderstand directions but answer the question or do the problem anyway. To avoid this type of error, read all the directions.
  • Careless errors - mistakes made which can be caught automatically upon reviewing the test. To avoid type of error, watch for simple mistakes carefully as you review the test...take time before turning it in.
  • Concept errors - mistakes made when you do not understand the properties or principles required to work the problem. To avoid this type of error in the future, you must go back to your textbook or notes and learn why you missed the problems. A tutor may be of great help or perhaps forming a study group.
  • Application errors - mistakes that you make when you know this concept but cannot apply it to the problem. To reduce this type of error, you must, learn to predict the type of application problems that will be on the test. Once again, requesting a tutor may be an option to help understand the material and related concepts.
  • Test procedure errors - mistakes that you make because of the specific way you take tests, such as:
    • Missing more questions in the 1st-third, 2nd third, or last third of a test. If you find that you miss more questions in a certain part of the test consistently (after reviewing the test), plan to take time during your next test to use your remaining test time to review that part of the test first.
    • Not completing a problem to its last step - to avoid this mistake, review the last step of a test problem first before doing an in-depth test review.
    • Changing test answers from the correct ones to incorrect ones. If you find from experience and reviewing tests that you are a bad answer changer, then write on your test "Don't change answers." Only change answers if you can prove to yourself or to the instructor that the changed answer is correct.
    • Getting stuck on one problem and spending too much time. Set a time limit for each problem before moving to the next problem.
    • Rushing through the easiest part of the test and making careless errors. If you do this often, after finishing the test, review the easy problems first then review the harder problems.
    • Miscopying an answer from your scratch work to the test. To avoid this, systematically compare your last problem step on scratch paper with the answer on the test.
    • Leaving answers blank. Write down some information or try at least to do the first step. Not only can this give you points, but can also "jog" your memory to answer the rest of the question.
    • Not following the Ten Steps to Better Test-Taking. Deviating from these proven ten steps will cost you points! Please check this out to provide a more complete test-taking plan.
  • Study errors - mistakes that occur when you study the wrong type of material or do not spend enough time studying pertinent material. To avoid these errors in the future, take time to track down why the errors occurred so that you can study more effectively the next time. Tutors and/or fellow students who have previously taken the class can also give you an idea of the course material that needs extra study time and how to study.