Learn From Your Mistakes For GATE/ASET Test

posted Jan 8, 2019, 12:20 AM by Adam Yu   [ updated Jan 17, 2019, 12:04 AM ]

What do you do when you have been preparing tirelessly for the GATE/ASET test, sit down to take a practice test...and then have to face all the questions you missed? This article lists the best ways to grapple with missed questions when you prepare yourself for GATE/ASET test.

1. Common Reactions to Mistakes

Getting questions wrong on an GATE/ASET practice test can be anywhere from mildly disappointing to absolutely infuriating. Discovering that you have answered a question incorrectly can trigger any or all of the following impulses:

Impulse 1: Focusing on what you did well and ignoring what you did wrong (not helpful).

Impulse 2: Disregarding questions you got wrong because they were just "careless mistakes" (not helpful).

Impulse 3: Focusing on the fact that you got things wrong and ignoring review in favor of self-loathing (not helpful).

Reviewing the questions you missed, however, is an extremely important part of test prep. It is the point at which you switch over from merely practice to actually teaching yourself.

2. Strategy One: Analyze Your Confidence for Each Question

It is not only important that you review missed questions, but that you also review them effectively. A helpful way to do this is by going through the questions you messed up on and sorting them into categories.

Many times, questions can be sorted into these general categories: Skipped (guessed randomly on), Guessed (through elimination), and (thought you) Knew. Seeing how many questions you skipped, how many you guessed, and how many you were certain were correct can help to focus your studying.

For instance, if the majority of the questions you missed were ones you skipped answering, it is possible that you might be accidentally skipping over some questions because you are rushing and end up zipping right past them.

Once you have sorted the questions you missed into these general categories, make sure to review all of the questions you guessed on, including the ones you answered correctly. Compare these questions with the questions you guessed incorrectly on. Was it just blind luck, or is there a difference between the way you approached the guessed questions you got correctly and incorrectly?

3. Strategy Two: Understand the Reason for Missing Each Question

Sort the questions by the fundamental reason you missed them. Do not just think, "Well, I got that one wrong." That is not useful in figuring out where you are really making mistakes.

Nearly all mistakes fall into following four categories:

Time Issue: You were pressed for time.

Question Comprehension Issue: The question was too complicated, you were not exactly sure what it was asking, or you were tricked by the question.

Procedural/Content Issue: You did not know how to find the answer to the question, or did not know the material the question covered.

Careless Error: A.k.a. careless mistakes, a.k.a. stupid mistakes, a.k.a. the most frustrating mistakes of all.

4. Mistake Type #1: Time Crunch

These are questions where you were pressed for time and could not answer the question. This is often the case with skipped or incorrectly guessed questions. Out of all the questions you missed, how many of these "ran out of time" questions are there? If the majority of your missed questions happened because you were running low on time, you may have a time management issue and you need to improve your time management skills.

5. Mistake Type #2: Question Comprehension

GATE/ASET questions might need to have one unambiguous answer, but that does not mean that they can not trick you with the wording of the question. Oddly, this is especially lethal for those who read quickly, because it can lead you to focus on the wrong part of the question. Always make sure you know what the question is asking before you look at the answers. Often, the test will give several incorrect answer choices that each could be correct if you misread the question a particular way.

6. Mistake Type #3: Procedural/Content Issue

If it is a multiple choice question, identify what type of question it is. For these kinds of missed questions, there is a main step to take which is to practice answering questions, over and over and over and more importantly, reviewing them well.

7. Mistake Type #4: Careless Error

Careless errors are seemingly innocuous, but with a potentially fatal impact. Rushing headlong through answer choices (or problem solving, in the case of some math questions) is often the prime culprit for careless mistakes. This is completely understandable, as you are taking a timed test, but ultimately it can be counterproductive if you do not have the appropriate backups in place.

We will discuss about each of these mistake types and strategies to improve on them in greater details in the next a few posts. 

8. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

We say this in pretty much all of our GATE/ASET test advice posts, but the reason we repeat it so frequently is because the GATE/ASET test is one of those tests where the best preparation is the test itself. Second to that, practice tests are the most fool-proof preparation there is for a test that measures almost as much test-taking strategy as it does content and skill.

Start by taking practice tests, one section at a time. Identify your weaknesses and work to improve in those areas. Gradually, as your skills grow, begin to take each section of the test with time constraints. And finally, take a few complete practice tests under testing conditions as similar to test day as possible.