Articles, Blog

10 Ways to Avoid Making Stupid Mistakes on Exams – College Info Geek

August 17, 2019

We are rapidly approaching
final exams right now, so hopefully you are
aspiring to greatness because greatness
is what precedes the growing of a great beard, so if you feel a little bit
of prickly stubble coming in, well, you know your aspirations
are in the right place. Anyway, today we
are gonna talk about how to not make dumb
mistakes on exams. I’ve been emailed about
this question a lot, and I wanna tackle
10 ways that you can stop making those
stupid mistakes. But first, a quick recap. – [Voiceover] Just last
week, Thomas released a video on test anxiety. As you may be aware,
stress and anxiety are two of the leading causes
of stupid mistakes on exams. Therefore, if you have
not yet seen that video, it is highly recommended that
you click the card right now and glue your eyeballs to it. Also, this is not
Thomas, it is obviously the announcer guy from
The Legend of Korra. Would I lie to you? – All right, so
that out of the way, let’s get into our first
tip, and just to warn ya, some of these might seem
a little bit obvious, but as is my M.O., I wanna
be pretty comprehensive in addition to brief, so even
if you’ve heard these before, try to put them into practice. So number one, be aware
of the time you have for your test, and
aim to finish early. Put some time
pressure on yourself. Just like with your
homework assignments, time pressure can help you
in the context of an exam. So if you’ve got 50 minutes,
prepare to finish in 45. That way you’ve got time
to double check later. Speaking of double checking,
that is tip number two, so put the kabash on the “I
don’t feel like it” mindset when it comes to doing
it because I know it’s a pain in the butt,
but five extra minutes in the testing room
going over your answers can mean the difference
between an A and a B, and what were you
gonna do with that extra five minutes
anyway, like, go on Reddit back at your dorm or something? So double check those answers. Tip number three
has to do with tests that use Scantron bubble sheets, and it’s something that I
used to do in my own tests. So basically when you’ve
read a question on the test and if you’ve figured
out the answer, then you’re about to transfer
it over to that bubble sheet, first either lightly touch
your pencil or your finger to the letter of
the answer, and then say the letter in your head. That will drastically cut
down the chance that you’ll bubble in the wrong answer
on your Scantron sheet, which is an incredibly common
error on that test format. Tip number four has
to do with the work you do on scratch paper,
and it’s simply to draw a box around each
problem’s work. That way when you’re looking
at your scratch paper to fill in an answer,
you don’t accidentally pull data from a
different problem. Tip number five is to slow down
and read the questions fully and watch out for trick wording. A lot of questions might
say, “Which of these is not?” instead of, “Which of these is?” So if you tend to read
questions too quickly and you’re making
mistakes, then use a pacing device
like your finger. Simply move it along
the text of the problem and let your eyes be
paced by that finger. I do this every single
week when I’m proofreading the emails I write for
the College Info Geek newsletter subscribers
because if I’m sending out an email to 17,000 people, I
don’t wanna make a mistake, and it’s pretty easy
for me to put typos. Tip number six has to
do with your essays, and it is to, no matter how
easy the essay seems at first, create an outline for that
essay before you start writing. Yes, it’s good for organization, but the big thing it helps
with is staying on topic. A lot of students
immediately take the prompt and then start
writing from scratch, and the stream-of-consciousness
style writing often ends up with their
essay going into territory that the professor didn’t
want them to write about. Now, while I’m all for
freedom of expression and creativity in your writing, if you’re not really staying
on topic with the essay, you’re not gonna
get a good grade. So make sure you’re
staying on topic, and use an outline. Tip number seven, seriously,
cut down on your test anxiety. Tip number eight is
to check your spelling and grammar on
essay-style exams. Wait, did I really
put that on my list? That is way too obvious. Anyway, moving on, tip number
nine is to do a sanity check after you get your
answers on math problems. Before you go through the actual
work of solving a problem, you probably have a general
ballpark idea in your head of what the answer should
be, so when you actually get that answer, compare
it to that ballpark number. If it’s way off the mark,
it doesn’t mean your answer is necessarily wrong,
but you should probably double check your work
just to make sure. And finally, tip
number 10 is to simply know your own brain. Do you have specific mistakes
that you tend to make a lot? Maybe you get the order
of operations wrong, or maybe you tend to
multiply things together that should be added. Whatever they are, do
your best to notice them when they happen, and
then when you’re taking your next test, pay special
attention on those areas. So, now that we’ve gone
through those 10 tips, and you’ve got
some ways to combat making stupid mistakes
on your next exam, here’s a big related question. If you’ve already
written down an answer, and now you have the
compulsion to change it, should you actually change it? Well, there’s actually
research on that topic, and we’ll be covering
it in next week’s video, so subscribe to this channel
if you haven’t already, and hey, thanks for
watching this one. (techno music) Hey guys, thanks so much
for watching this video on how to combat making
stupid mistakes on your tests. If you liked this video,
you can support it by leaving a like
here on YouTube, and also if you want to
get new videos every week on being a more
effective student, you can hit that big red
subscribe button right there. If you wanna
improve your grades, I also wrote a free
book on the subject, and if you wanna
get a free copy, just click the picture of it. You can find links to
anything I’ve mentioned in this video at the
companion blog post, which you’ll find by clicking
the orange logo right there. Last week’s video
covered test anxiety, and it’s really
related to this topic, so if you missed it, click the
thumbnail and check it out. Lastly if you have questions
or ideas for new videos or just wanna connect,
you can follow me on Twitter @TomFrankly
or leave a comment below. See you in the next video. (techno music)

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  • Reply Katarina Čuljak May 7, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    These kind of videos are why everyone should subscribe to your channel.

  • Reply Arden Hamiton May 12, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Can you please do a video on what you do to study ie read over the question say it out loud etc

  • Reply Kholi Ngozwana June 1, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    "from the legend of Kora,would I lie to you?!" HAHA I LOVE THIS GUY!

  • Reply Ken Palamara June 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    That recap was definitely Korra-inspired! awesome dude! Also, creating an outline for essays is something I found to be super helpful. Not just for an exam but also for an assignment. It always gives you something to go back to and going through the planning phase is a great confidence/productivity boost.

  • Reply Kiezsha Canal June 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Hi Thomas! Thank you for the previous tips.
    But i have a problem…
    I oftentimes get sick(literally…fever and etc) before or during examinations week.

    How can i be productive even when im sick???
    I hope you can help me, thank you in advance…
    More Power and God Bless…

  • Reply Tiara Artis August 14, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    lol oh dear if I grew a beard I would definitely look even more like a boy

  • Reply amy August 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I've done Tip #3 for as long as I can remember because I was terrified of making a mistake back in elementary school hahah

  • Reply Reign Lee August 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Has anyone ever told you that you look like Stephen Amell? Coz you do ?
    Btw, great tips! New subscriber earned!

  • Reply Mohammed Hassan Mitha September 14, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    hey yo

  • Reply Mohammed Hassan Mitha September 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm


  • Reply Mohammed Hassan Mitha September 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Mr. Queen

  • Reply Das Hexxchen September 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    2. Double Checking is not for everyone! It happened to me that I changed an answer into the wrong one.

    What I like to do is, if I cannot answer something directly I drwa a little line or whatever beside the number and move on. After I'm done with the safe points I go back and do the hard tasks.
    Saves time and gives confidence.

  • Reply MR.Sabin Kc September 20, 2015 at 4:59 am

    you had 1billion ideas dud your are great

  • Reply A Lee October 8, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Worst thing I'm prone to: doing the equation correctly, but flubbing the simple, like 2×3 = 5… I have test anxiety…

  • Reply Vivienne Do October 14, 2015 at 2:45 am

    Sigh, i wish i watched this earlier today!! Just noticed I made three small errors on my exam….DARN IT ALLLL

  • Reply Waffle Ninja November 14, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thank God you exist!! ?? your videos have helped me so much. It's my first year in college and I'm studying IT engineering (not sure if that's what it's called in English). could you give me some advice on how not to feel lost and more confident in an environment where everyone is so competitive (generally they know a lot about programming than I do) while I'm just a beginner..

  • Reply Sbk Kavin November 30, 2015 at 9:37 am

    how to stop making calculation mistakes

  • Reply Yatukih001 December 1, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Science has proved that people who think there is a student who´s done well on an exam and received 10 in everything are delusional. We don´t need college exams anymore because of the internet, and if modern colleges want to be taken seriously by future generations of students, we must ban exams and instead of college exams we´ve got science.

  • Reply lots-of-tater-tots December 4, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I find that for math tests or other tests where you do math, I can avoid stupid mistakes best if I do the exam twice. Sounds crazy, but hear me out. You finish the test the first time and pick out problems that you think you might've gotten wrong (either because they're long or because there's something in them that you find hard). Cover up your initial answer to that question and redo it from the very beginning. At the end, compare your answers.

  • Reply Rohan M December 8, 2015 at 11:41 am

    God damn that beginning though?

  • Reply zellw3 December 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Im in love of you Thomas, i came here to see your tips but i end up saying "omg i really like this guy".

  • Reply Kazuto Kirigaya December 11, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    #5 is kind of hard to do when you are under time pressure

  • Reply Dawn December 12, 2015 at 4:28 am

    stupid mistakes are the most annoying thing i do. The teacher wants to yell at me from the stupid, adding mistakes.

  • Reply Suivax Broussard December 14, 2015 at 12:02 am


  • Reply Slimy Weasles December 14, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Ohmygosh the Announcer Guy from Legend of Korra! 🙂 I'm so happy that was an intentional reference! 🙂

  • Reply ravy December 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    That frog over frog though.

  • Reply LilyAnne Miller December 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Could you do a video for maybe high school exams and test taking strategies? That would be SUPER helpful!

  • Reply Shankar Ram December 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I always tend to do simple arithmetic mistakes, like 6+6+3=16. How should I avoid them? Please guys, I need your help. Comment and help me out.

  • Reply Enzo Cerullo January 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Today I had a probability exam (2nd year uni maths) and misread a 3 as a 2.. and didn't realize so this cause a bunch of subsequent questions to also be wrong…otherwise would have got close to full marks…. fuck

  • Reply shoptart January 20, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    ummmmm. I'll have to work on that beard thing…

  • Reply panicatdx January 23, 2016 at 7:13 am

    the fact that the us has these a-d tests (idk what they are called) is ridiculous to me. why not an analysis or similiar formats?

  • Reply Trey J January 24, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    OMFG i feel like shit too stressed 🙁

  • Reply Fia Barus February 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks Thomas for reminding us to write an outline for essay answers! Thats actually very logical and i wonder why ive never tried that method before

  • Reply NAVNEET JAIN February 18, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    buddy your is international bench mark

  • Reply shria gupta February 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Can you please explain the 9th tip again? I don't understand it.

  • Reply Melissa Sutton March 11, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I'm growing a beard……totally cool.

  • Reply DoesItLookLikeIGiveAF**k April 9, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    When I do 35-5 = 31 before doing the actual hard part. I mean it really sucks that I didn't do the question wrong but it's ever so slightly off that It can't be marked right.

  • Reply myName myname2 April 10, 2016 at 11:49 am

    what was the tip #7?

  • Reply nowthatsme April 18, 2016 at 2:27 am

    Dear Thomas, you might not believe it, but your videos have changed my life around!
    I used to procrastinate – A LOT – and then stumbled upon your videos, and looking at how serious you are with managing so many things so efficiently all together, I thought to myself, if he can, and if he's helping other people do the same, why can't I?
    Thank you Thomas – and I thank you A LOT!
    Keep your vids coming, you have no idea how big a fan (and counting) you have earned yourself!

  • Reply Dianah Azharuddin May 13, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I always do mistakes for plotting the graphs 🙁 i know its hella easy but CARELESS mistakes 🙁 every single time. I need tips! Please ?

  • Reply Miranda Dama May 16, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    thank you so much Thomas you're the best… i feel like crying 'cause i was about to give up on my studies. Everybody keeps saying I am an intellectual and that I am smart but I could never really get my studying on par. I am studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering and I am sooooo anxious that i might fail, ive quit going to class because i cant really " time manage" anything. but thank you, your videos have really brought bac some of the diligence I had back in High School. So Kudos to you man and please dont stop. One Topic I would like you to give tips on is " Tips on How to Manage school time and weightloss schedule" for example. or just extracurricular activities. plus for someone like me who has 8:00am- 19:00 pm class everyday and still want to lose weight but am too self conscious to workout in the afternoon and dont get enough sleep if i wake up in the morning.

  • Reply Raka Pratama June 6, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    6/2(1+2) = 9 or 1 ???
    got that in my math…

  • Reply Hosseini Maryam June 15, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Tip 1: Hurry up!

    Tip 4: Slow down!

  • Reply LarenSSX June 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I have 7th grade ELA finals today in 2 hours D:

  • Reply Ángeles Mena June 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm


  • Reply goldengoal123 July 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for doing this, this semester I got really high marks in my maths tests but in the final exam I got a 73. And it was all caused by silly mistakes. Hopefully I can bounce back next time

  • Reply Henonaga July 15, 2016 at 5:07 am

    I think I missed an entry on my accounting midterm, how stupid can i be!? smacks head against table.

  • Reply Emmanuel Apuamadi July 27, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Thanks for this video bro. it really helped

  • Reply Thomas Russell August 15, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Scotty and Kirk had a quite elegant dance around time estimation.

  • Reply neloufer ali September 4, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    sir could u please make a video on preparation for math

  • Reply Syn K September 6, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Thank you❤️

  • Reply Mandy Rasmuson September 9, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Do you have any suggestions for answering scenario based questions? As well as questions that could have more than one possible correct question? (specifically for online testing)

  • Reply Nitya Khirwar September 13, 2016 at 7:36 pm


  • Reply Tnh Too September 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    My fav tip is to KNOW MY BRAIN

  • Reply cool bro2 September 23, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Thomas Frank plss help me plss how to study in math the best ways

  • Reply Meg Mon October 8, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    lol I thought of korra while the announcer started! ?

  • Reply X October 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Sup Thomas, can you do more videos on essay based exams and how to study for Math exams. It's would awesome as I have an upcoming exam.

  • Reply Keletho October 24, 2016 at 2:43 am

    How do you know all these strong study tips and stuff? You must have had a 4.0 straight in an Ivy league university. No reason not to.

  • Reply Sean Forbes October 25, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I do ALL of this and yet I still make incredibly stupid . mistakes. I don't want to do anymore. Any tips or help would be appreciated

  • Reply Paul Tomy October 27, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    love you man(no homo)

  • Reply Best Adaptation November 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    It was really helpful ??

  • Reply Holly Philpot December 12, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Deeply appreciate the legend of Korra reference. Been nervous about my exam tomorrow for ages and that really made me laugh 🙂

  • Reply Varsha Nair January 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    hey thanks…my exams gonna be in April…I'll follow all the tips of yours..thank u so much

  • Reply favee dian January 27, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I love your videos.

  • Reply Iwanttobeaplayer February 15, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Legend of Korra <3

  • Reply AuroraRising1 March 4, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    omg this is so accurate. I already use these and I ace tests using all of these

  • Reply Adrija Chatterjee March 8, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I make mistakes in biology!

  • Reply Ruhiyati Suffi March 11, 2017 at 3:53 am

    haha that's legend of korra style way of recap XD cool

  • Reply Liv Boe Thrysøe March 19, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    I really love your channel and find it very useful eventhough I'm not from the US and not everything is adapteble to the school system of my own country. Could you make a video where you go in details about writing good essays in English and how to create an outline before you start writing? Do you have any god writing tips, or have you noticed something professors often look for or really don't like to see? It would be very interesting to hear about your thoughts and experiences on this 🙂 Again great work with this channel!

  • Reply MVX April 12, 2017 at 10:11 am

    the type of mistakes I make are like getting the right answer in the working out 'box' (like 1/16 of the isotope has remained) but in the answer 'box' I write something that hasn't even showed up on the test (like 9/20) its left a lot of teachers scratching their heads trying to figure out how I got it and I really want to avoid that.

  • Reply Michelle April 27, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    you would be a fantastic teacher/professor. I wish I came across your channel in high school

  • Reply Maria Grecea May 26, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Omg, I loved the LoK announcement!

  • Reply Mystic Stardust July 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Which is better?
    1) do quickly, check when finish everything
    2) do and check after every statement
    3) do and check after every question

  • Reply Amardeo Ramgeawan July 31, 2017 at 2:49 am

    thanks buddy

  • Reply kt123 September 11, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    that korra reference lmao

  • Reply Princess Diana January 16, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    well in exam times i prepare everything and in my routine i should have to study for 18 to 19 hours and finally i sit to give my exam but the main problem of mine is that i hurry a lot and then i make small kind of mistakes but i dont really want to make so from now on i will follow ur 3 out of 10 methods bcoz those 7 methods are kind of regular activity for me bcoz i do it

  • Reply Doro January 19, 2018 at 8:03 am

    I think the #1 pieces of advice that apply to me are to read carefully and write neatly.
    I read really fast so I usually miss out on important details.
    I’ve had marks deducted from my math tests because while doing my work I mistake a 9 for a 7.

  • Reply Le Ciné Du Geek January 27, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Having the formula in mind and doubting yourself and leave a blank instead of answering ????‍♂️

  • Reply Aditya February 5, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Flareon is the noble gas

  • Reply Mr. Night February 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I got one mistake in my math test 🙁
    I could've gotten A+
    🙁 feels bad man.
    It was a simple one as well.

  • Reply Pablo Albarrán February 23, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Keep going man, awesome vids.

  • Reply Roblox Ignite March 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    The dislikes are people who failed

  • Reply Tegan Cee April 24, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    ngl, US education sounds soooo much easier than British education, with the bubble sheets and things for a maths test is almost unheard of this side of the pond.

  • Reply pushpraj sharma sharma May 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I do calculation mistake

  • Reply Cherry Cake June 1, 2018 at 2:30 am

    As soon as I head legend of Korra, I immediately hit subscribe and the thumbs up

  • Reply AK Ton July 12, 2018 at 7:52 am

    i making mistakes in MCQ inspite of knowing the answer 100 %.if i doubt then i lose marks.

  • Reply SUJATA CHAKRABARTI July 23, 2018 at 8:16 am

    The Scratch Paper method helped me so much in my Examinations…..thank you so much for this video!!!

  • Reply Anna Tippett October 8, 2018 at 2:51 am

    "cut down on test anxiety" dude… that's not really a choice

  • Reply Trần Văn Hiệp December 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Tom, I understand intensive work is something one should aim for, I usually relate speed with intensity but the result is always silly mistakes. How can I avoid this ?

  • Reply Adarsh Choudhary December 12, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Um , but what's the answer btw? 3:38

  • Reply Doctor Pretty December 15, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Brother..time pressure brings anxiety to my soul..

  • Reply Harsh beniwal December 17, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    I have a problem of making very stuoid mistakes …..I always write wrong question …..Please ….Help me….

  • Reply ludlow 889 December 31, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Disagree with Tip #6 (create an outline during your midterm or final exam). Takes too long. If your prof uses essay exams (which he/she should), then simply anticipate the kinds of questions likely to be asked on your upcoming exams and create detailed outlines ahead of time and familiarize yourself with them. That way, come test time, you'll already have the outline in your head and can just jump straight to writing it out. Far more efficient and less stressful than trying to organize an essay on the spot.

  • Reply Dark Blue Nutrition February 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Feeling the beard growing already. ?

  • Reply U W U my f a c e April 27, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    subscribing to you because based on the comment section, you really helped a lot of people

  • Reply SixxQueen91 May 14, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Can you make a video about ways to study for an exam that covers months of material.

  • Reply Xiaohua Liu May 30, 2019 at 3:49 am

    Thomasfranklogic: flareon is gas

  • Reply Sona Sambou June 20, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Ha you on exams in stead of in exam

  • Reply ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʜᴇɴᴏᴍᴇɴᴀʟ ᴅᴜᴅᴇ July 7, 2019 at 2:02 am

    I freakin left a part of a question in my science exam which was of 2 marks. I also knew the answer to it. Same with the maths exam, I didn't read the question properly and it had one more question to be answered.
    Also because of test anxiety, I tend to write wrong answer even when I know their correct ones.

  • Reply Bir Amrit Singh July 25, 2019 at 2:45 pm


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