Many parents have feedback to me that their child **often makes careless mistakes in Maths**, at all levels, from Primary, Secondary, to JC Level. **I truly empathize with them**, as it often leads to marks being lost unnecessarily. Not to mention, it is discouraging for the child.

Also, making careless mistakes is **most common in the subject of mathematics**, it is rare to hear of students making careless mistakes in say, History or English.

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent careless mistakes for mathematics, or **at least reduce the rates of careless mistakes**.

From experience, the ways to prevent careless mistakes for mathematics can be classified into 3 categories, **Common Sense**, **Psychological**, and **Math Tips**.

**Common Sense**

- Firstly,
**write as neatly as possible**. Often, students write their “5” like “6”. Mathematics in Singapore is highly computational in nature, such errors may lead to loss of marks. Also, for Algebra, it is recommended that students**write l (for length) in a cursive manner, like to prevent confusion with 1.**Also, in Complex Numbers in H2 Math,**write z with a line in the middle, like Ƶ, to avoid confusion with 2**. **Leave some time for checking**. This is easier said than done, as**speed requires practice**. But leaving some time, at least 5-10 minutes to check the entire paper is a good strategy. It can spot obvious errors, like**leaving out an entire question**.

**Psychological**

**Look at the number of marks**. If the question is 5 marks, and your solution is very short, something may be wrong. Also if the question is just 1 mark, and it took a long time to solve it, that may ring a bell.- See if the final answer is a “
**nice number**“. For questions that are about whole numbers, like number of apples, the answer should clearly be a**whole number**. At higher levels, especially with questions that require answers in 3 significant figures, the number may not be so nice though. However, from experience, some questions even in A Levels, like vectors where one is suppose to solve for a constant , it turns out that the constant is a “nice number”.

**Mathematical Tips**

Mathematical Tips are harder to apply, unlike the above which are straightforward. Usually students will have to be taught and guided by a teacher or tutor.

**Substitute back the final answer into the equations**. For example, when solving simultaneous equations like x+y=3, x+2y=4, after getting the solution x=2, y=1, you should substitute back into the original two equations to check it.**Substitute in certain values.**For example, after finding the partial fraction , you should substitute back a certain value for x, like x=2. Then check if both the left-hand-side and right-hand-side gives the same answer. (LHS=1/3, RHS=1/2-1/6=1/3) This usually gives a very high chance that you are correct.

Thanks for reading this long article! Hope it helps! 🙂

I will add more tips in the future.

## Recommended Maths Book:

Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail

This book is a **New York Times Bestseller** by actress Danica McKellar, who is also an internationally recognized mathematician and advocate for math education. It should be available in the library. Hope it can inspire all to like Maths!