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7 Mistakes Students Should Avoid in a Math Exam

Most students consider mathematics exams very stressful and challenging. This is because, in mathematics, all concepts must be clear for one to score a top grade. In many cases, even the most prepared students for math exams end up failing because of avoidable mistakes or lack of exam help. This article will look at the 7 mistakes students should avoid in a math exam.

Inability to Manage Time

 Time is an essential factor in the completion of any math exam. Many students cannot manage time, which ends up costing them marks. Students should focus on managing time. They should not spend too much time on one question. Before you start writing your exam, go through all the questions and identify the easy and hard ones. This will help you know which questions to start attempting. Allocate more time on the complex questions and questions that carry more marks. You can start trying the easy questions and then finish with the more challenging ones. This means that time will not catch up with you before you attempt questions that you are sure of scoring good marks in. Therefore, avoid wasting time while answering your math exam by allocating each question to a specified time. Also, ensure that you have some extra minutes to go through your answers before handing over the work.

Relying on Mental Calculations Rather than Using a Calculator

It’s okay to skip several steps regarding calculations. However, many students make a mistake by opting to do mental calculations to save time. Trusting your mental calculations prowess can be good, but it’s important to note that mental calculations are not always correct. Since you can use a calculator in your exam, it is important to use it to ensure that your summations are correct. You’d rather spend a minute doing a calculation for a guaranteed correct answer rather than rushing with mental calculations and getting the answer wrong.

Cramming Math Formulas

Mathematics is one subject that does not require cramming. However, many students make the costly mistake of cramming formulas, thinking that they will be helpful in answering questions. Mathematical exam questions change from time to time; therefore, the formulas you cram may not be helpful. Math requires regular practice and understanding of all the concepts involved. That is why students are advised to do regular practice and revision on the areas to be tested. However, most of them wait to read at the last minute. You must understand that answering the questions will be a major challenge if the concepts are unclear. Therefore, ensure that you understand the concepts and practice early enough.

Not Going Through the Answer Sheet before Handing It In

This might seem like the obvious thing, but it is very important. This goes hand in hand with time management. As stated above, when allocating time for your exam, ensure that you have enough time to go through your paper to see whether you have answered all the questions. Many students never get time to go through their answers after finishing the exam because they do not allocate time for the same. This can be a deadly mistake. Once you finish your exam, it is important to run the following checks before handing over your paper;
  • Check whether you have left any blanks – It is very important to attempt every question. Sometimes an exam can be more challenging than you expected. However, remember that a question that is not answered cannot earn you any marks. It's therefore important to attempt every question.
  • Check whether you have answered the compulsory questions - In most mathematics exams, you will have optional and compulsory questions. Ensure that you have not skipped any compulsory questions.
  • Check whether you have filled in all the important details – There are some obvious details that many students forget, such as their names and admission number. The heat of the exam can make you forget the obvious things. Therefore, once you finish your exam, ensure that you have gone through these details.

Having an Untidy Answer Sheet

Getting your answers right and ensuring that your answer sheet is tidy are two different things. Mathematics requires a lot of rough work and too many calculations. Therefore, to avoid messing up your answer sheet, you can have loose paper to do all your calculations. You need to know that the examiners will award marks for the steps followed in arriving at the answer. Therefore, even if you get the correct answer and you have not shown the process followed to arrive at it, you may not be awarded full marks for the same. It is, therefore, important to ensure that all the steps are clear and working properly. It is also important to ensure that your handwriting is eligible. Don’t give the person marking your exam a hard time marking it.

Using Different or Wrong Units

This is a major problem and a mistake that many students make when writing their math exams. Many students either do not pay attention or do not understand the difference between units. Using a different unit from the unit you are asked to use in a question can lead to marks reduction or not being awarded any marks in that question. If you are asked questions in meters and are required to give the answer in centimeters, ensure that you do that. The examiner will use such small tricks to see whether you understand the different conversions that should happen in different questions. Therefore, when you see problems involving volume, speed and area, ensure that you have a keen look at the units required in the answers. What is more, if you have converted one unit to another in an answer, don’t forget to include the specific units in the final answer.

Answering Questions that Are Not Clear to You

One major problem that students face is misunderstanding the questions. Many students answer questions because they look similar to the ones they used for revisions. Note that there are a lot of twists in math questions. Therefore ensure that you analyze every question thoroughly before answering in order to have clear solutions and minimize the chances of errors. To avoid missing anything in a question, underline all the keywords in every question. Also, be clear on the formula type in each question.


Scoring a good grade in math is the dream of every student. However, there are many handles in math, so students consider it the most challenging course. However, when in a math exam, ensure that you follow all the required instructions. What is more, follow all the above-stated tips on the mistakes you should avoid in a mathematics exam. With these tips, you will have an easier time working on your exam and easily score better grades.

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