Taking English exams can be intimidating and challenging. Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and it's common to make the same kinds of mistakes in an exam.
It’s possible to make use of this though, and improve your English from the mistakes you make. Today in our language learning blog, we discuss how we can use exam errors to perfect and improve your English.
1. Find a pattern
Firstly, you want to establish what your weak and strong points are. Write these down somewhere each time and build up a record. It's essential to take note of the mistakes you make and try to see if there's a pattern.
Perhaps mistakes happen on:
- A specific type or style of question
- Questions relating to the same topic area
- A particular way the exam is delivered (like spoken or written)
These are only a few examples, but recognizing patterns or similarities can help you focus on areas that need improvement or extra attention.
2. Rationalize and understand your mistakes
Making mistakes in an exam can really impact a person's confidence, but if you can, look back and rationalize why that mistake was made. It can help your confidence in the future. Sometimes mistakes are made just because of a misinterpretation, perhaps a question wasn’t read correctly, and you realize you knew the answer after all.
Remember, the situation of being in an exam can be stressful and you may not think or respond in the way you normally would outside of the exam room, so don't be too hard on yourself.
Mistakes happen in the real world every day, and being able to look back at them and examine them critically is a valuable skill.
3. Compare and team up with peers
As we’ve already mentioned, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. It can be a great idea to compare your mistakes with others; they may be making the same ones.
You can team up and try to tackle them together, or you may know someone whose strength is in your weak areas (and vice versa). It's helpful to team up and help each other. They might have some handy tips and techniques for you to try.
4. Experiment with study techniques
It's good to switch up techniques at times and your errors might be giving you some guidance on doing so. If you tend to make errors with your spoken English, consider study techniques that work on that – like using recall or incorporating music to strengthen your speech.
Perhaps memory is an issue, so using tools like flashcards can help you. Some techniques focus on and help improve some areas more than others, so there isn’t one solution for all. Make sure to experiment and see what works for you.
Perhaps an obvious one, but just repeating and practicing the questions/tasks you’ve gotten wrong in the exam is a good approach. By doing it over and over again, with some persistence, it ends up being retained in your long-term memory.
You may want to study variations of the questions you struggle with, as exams tend to alter their questions and you don’t want to be thrown off in an exam if they reword/change the question slightly.
The next time you review your exam results, remember these steps, look for patterns, examine your thought process and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. With enough practice, those errors should be things of the past.