Exam Analysis Tool

Help to recognize why you had points taken off to help identify better study strategies. Make sure you’re honest with yourself or else it won’t be helpful!

For each wrong answer, write down the question number next to the category that best describes why you got the question wrong:

Reason for wrong answer Exam question number/Topic of question

My notes were not an accurate representation of what was on the exam.


I studied this for memorization, not for application.


I misread the question and/or the selection of answers.

I totally misunderstood this concept.  
I “blanked” on this question.  

I changed the right answer to the wrong one. I was not confident in my understanding of the concept.



Identify which category or categories have the highest number of checkmarks to identify what areas you need to improve.

“My notes were not an accurate representation of what was on the exam.”

This may indicate you may want to improve your note-taking skills. Notes are a guide to the topics and concepts that the professor believes are important. It is vital to review your notes after lecture through active studying techniques and compare them with your textbook notes to fill in any gaps. It may also be helpful to compare notes with another classmate or study group to ensure you did not miss anything important. Office hours, tutoring sessions, and practice problems are also helpful resources to use when studying for an exam.

“I studied this for memorization, not application.”

This is a very common reason for missing questions. This indicates that you need to change your study habits to understand concepts rather than just memorize them. Many times, students spend a lot of time rewriting and rereading their notes, however that does not encourage engagement with the material. More efficient study strategies include creating concept maps, Cornell Notes, drawing figures, forming study groups, and doing practice problems. Reading your lecture notes and assigned texts before class and review your lecture notes through active study strategies following class will help you understand concepts.

“I misread the question and/or the selection of answers.”

This may indicate that you should review some basic test-taking strategies. Some tips to help prevent this mistake is to circle and underline important words or phrases, cover the answers while reading the question and come up with an answer before you look at the ones given, answer the easier questions first, and use process of elimination when answering multiple choice questions.

“I misunderstood this concept”

There are many reasons that you could be misunderstanding concepts. It is important to ensure that you’re using active study skills such as concept maps, practice problems, and drawing figures, instead of just memorizing materials. These strategies combined with study groups, tutoring, and office hours will be helpful to guarantee that you understand concepts correctly.

“I ‘blanked’ on this question.”

If it is common that you are blanking on questions, it may be a sign of test anxiety. Booking an appointment with the Counseling Center will help you learn strategies to combat test anxiety. Practicing good test taking strategies such as brain-dumping (writing down everything you are worried you are going to forget as soon as the exam starts) and engaging in active studying rather than passive studying will help you in this area.

“I changed the right answer to the wrong one.”

Changing answers often indicates a lack of confidence in yourself. Use active studying habits throughout the week to ingrain concepts in your head rather than just trying to memorize them. Pairing these habits with working in study groups will help you feel more confident in your knowledge. It may also be possible that test anxiety or nervousness can also play a contributing factor to your lack of confidence. Scheduling a meeting with the Counseling Center to learn strategies may also help.

If you are having trouble applying different strategies to your work, make an appointment with an Academic Coach in Study Lab on the Navigate App.

Active Studying Passive Studying
  • Explain material in your own words, from memory
  • Develop a concept map or flow chart
  • Answer practice questions
  • Relate theories to made-up stories or real life, personal examples
  • Look at charts and diagrams and explain them in your own words
  • Answer Higher Order Thinking Questions- Why? How? What if?
  • Flashcards for memorization
  • Rewriting notes
  • Rereading chapter summaries
  • Looking over chapter outlines
  • Rereading textbook
  • Reviewing highlighted material from your textbook


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