Practice makes permanent, so the most successful math students tend to check work regularly on problems. Studying math is not the same as studying other subjects; working problems out on paper is necessary for learning math concepts. Checking your work in class and checking your work while doing homework is just as important as checking your work during a test.
Read the Problem
Some mistakes on math tests happen because the student did not completely understand the problem. Rushing through reading the problem causes students to miss important details. Read the problem carefully before working on it, and read it more than once. The Math Tip Sheet from Northern Virginia Community College suggests you read the problems more than once, then do exactly as directed. When you go back to check your work, you will save yourself any confusion and heartache as you realize you read the question wrong the first time.
Show Your Work
Math instructors often remind students to show their work to make it easier to grade, but it also makes it easier for you to check your work. Write out all of your work neatly, and don't skip any steps. At St. Louis University's College of Math and Computer Science, educators advise students not to bother erasing mistakes; it wastes time and makes a mess on the paper. Instead, just draw a neat line through mistakes and keep working. This will make checking your work easier, as well.
Stan Brown advises students at Tompkins Cortland Community College not to overthink math problems. While it is good to go back and check your work, sometimes students change a right answer to a wrong answer. If you believe you need to change your answer, check your work for the second answer just as you did for the first.
Pay attention to the clock while taking a math test. Give yourself an appropriate amount of time to do the work and check your answers for each problem. If you get hung up on one problem, you may run out of time for the remainder of the test. You need to leave yourself time to check all of your work, and that may mean moving on from one difficult problem, and coming back to it after you have completed the test.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images