Stupid mistakes on Tests.
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Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I know this is a plague amongst many of my friends especially in Math or Science classes. We all know how to do the problems and do them and get some answer only to flip a sign or change random values midproblem or some other silly error. I know it's turned tests I'd get perfect scores on into a middle or low B.
Any stories echoing this awful situation or stories of success overcoming subconscious idiocy?
Any stories echoing this awful situation or stories of success overcoming subconscious idiocy?
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
For math tests, I do the problems twice.
Normally I'm fast enough that I have enough time, otherwise I only redo the harder/longer ones.
If I get 2 different answers, I either redo it again and go with the most common answer, or try to find my error.
The other part is basic errorchecking. On a physics test I got the moon's speed to be around 100 times the speed of light. I knew that was wrong, so I crossed out the page and redid it.
Normally I'm fast enough that I have enough time, otherwise I only redo the harder/longer ones.
If I get 2 different answers, I either redo it again and go with the most common answer, or try to find my error.
The other part is basic errorchecking. On a physics test I got the moon's speed to be around 100 times the speed of light. I knew that was wrong, so I crossed out the page and redid it.
 TaintedDeity
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
On a spelling test at the age of 1213 I spelt the word 'fuel' wrong.
Of course, I managed to get 'hypothesis' right but got fuel wrong.
Of course, I managed to get 'hypothesis' right but got fuel wrong.
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 TheAmazingRando
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
This is me often, though not exactly flipping signs. I'll know all the theory and be firmly grounded in all the more complicated stuff, only to forget some minor, trivial thing I know intuitively and never even need to think about. I had a class where I forgot which direction the subset symbol works in (this wasn't a class on set notation, it just used it for the question), and on a linear algebra test I forgot whether matrices have their dimensions listed as row x column or column x row. When I'm stumped by something like this I inevitably make the wrong decision, then realize my mistake the minute I leave the room.
 lu6cifer
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
That's essentially the case for me throughout my education in mathematics. It's always kept me from getting perfects.
My advice is to either concentrate really intensely on each problem, regardless of its difficulty level, and maybe mutter the steps that you're writing down as you do the problem. That has helped me decrease the amount of errors on tests. An alternative is to do so many practice problems to the point where you almost can't make a mistake.
My advice is to either concentrate really intensely on each problem, regardless of its difficulty level, and maybe mutter the steps that you're writing down as you do the problem. That has helped me decrease the amount of errors on tests. An alternative is to do so many practice problems to the point where you almost can't make a mistake.
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 Ventanator
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I do that constantly. It's never on the hard problems that you think to go back and check either. It's the ones that are so simple that you think, "I can't miss this!"
Also, it always seems to be something so small that you would never think to correct it without starting the problem completely over again. I hate it.
Also, it always seems to be something so small that you would never think to correct it without starting the problem completely over again. I hate it.
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Happens all the time. I could start re checking all my tests, but it normally just drops me from a 100 to 95ish, so I shrug and file it under shit happens. I use the time after I finish a test to sort through some random thoughts I have bouncing around my head and stay sane, and to me that's much more valuable that 5 percent on a test.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
The integral of x^{8}/(x+1) .
I came so bluddy close to acing Calc 2 entirely, but I neglected the final +1 in the series. Yes, it was twelve years ago now (eep) and I should probably forget it. But it makes such a good story.
Not quite as good as viewtopic.php?f=2&t=47453 , though. That one finally paid off recently...
I came so bluddy close to acing Calc 2 entirely, but I neglected the final +1 in the series. Yes, it was twelve years ago now (eep) and I should probably forget it. But it makes such a good story.
Not quite as good as viewtopic.php?f=2&t=47453 , though. That one finally paid off recently...
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 mmmcannibalism
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I have a genuine gift for rather amusing arithmatic errors(and that time I bombed a test because I went blank on taylor series construction)
The best one I can remember is
100+1+100+8=2
Then there was the time a graph on my calculator was upside down for no apparent reason, after checking that it was put in the same as everyone else about 5 times I just turned it off which thankfully fixed the problem.
The best one I can remember is
100+1+100+8=2
Then there was the time a graph on my calculator was upside down for no apparent reason, after checking that it was put in the same as everyone else about 5 times I just turned it off which thankfully fixed the problem.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I would agree with most people here in that it just comes down to 'shit happens'. I got 99% in my maths exam last year  lost one mark for adding instead of subtracting, and one mark for writing a range of x<2 instead of 2<x<2.
On the rare tests which I get 100% on, I find that it's not always that I check everything over 3 or 4 times  on a calc test for chem, I got 100% even though I just managed to finish it in time, no checking through. Preparing for that was just me doing loads of practise problems and doing them quickly, to simulate the pressure in a test situation. Do that enough times, and you should become better at answering things quickly, tidily, and accurately.
On the rare tests which I get 100% on, I find that it's not always that I check everything over 3 or 4 times  on a calc test for chem, I got 100% even though I just managed to finish it in time, no checking through. Preparing for that was just me doing loads of practise problems and doing them quickly, to simulate the pressure in a test situation. Do that enough times, and you should become better at answering things quickly, tidily, and accurately.
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 animeHrmIne
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I miss the small things all the time in math. I'll add wrong, or flip a sign, or forget the gorram +C. It'll usually cost me about 23% on the tests I take.
The worst part about these mistakes is that doing these problems again dosen't help  I'll make the same mistake every time. It's like a mental block or something.
Fun stories about stupid math mistakes:
On a matrix test in eighth grade, I missed a problem, but my teacher only wrote (1). So I looked at the problem, but I couldn't figure out what the mistake was. Finally, I asked: apparently 2*3=7.
The worst part about these mistakes is that doing these problems again dosen't help  I'll make the same mistake every time. It's like a mental block or something.
Fun stories about stupid math mistakes:
On a matrix test in eighth grade, I missed a problem, but my teacher only wrote (1). So I looked at the problem, but I couldn't figure out what the mistake was. Finally, I asked: apparently 2*3=7.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
The worst is when you actually DO get the right answer, but fill in the wrong one on the bubble sheet. That's cost me many a 100%.
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 Demetri Martin
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Only thing I can think of is that recently on a Genetics test I wrote that AaBb x AaBb would result in a 1:1:1:1 ratio, which is AaBb x aabb, not a dihybrid cross. It screwed over the rest of the question, and I it was a silly mistake, but that wasn't a good day for me besides. Then I reminded myself it wasn't a huge deal.
 cjmcjmcjmcjm
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
See: my math grades
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 mmmcannibalism
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Pulled a nice one off today
On a test that various kids from school take(state competition, mostly for fun no awards I know of)
If you flip 6 fair coins what are the odds of exactly 1 tail and 5 heads
I wrote 5/64
On a test that various kids from school take(state competition, mostly for fun no awards I know of)
If you flip 6 fair coins what are the odds of exactly 1 tail and 5 heads
I wrote 5/64
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Recently in my Calc class I was finding an antiderivative. It was something like [imath]6x^5+4x^3+2x+3[/imath] or something like that. My answer: [imath]x^6+12x^4+x^2+3x[/imath]
Yeah I multiplied the coefficient by the exponent like I was using the power rule to find the derivative, then took the rest of the antiderivative correctly.
Also on another recent test I was taking an integral with the limits from 4  10. So when I was subtracting the antiderivatives I should have subtracted the function at 4 from 10. For whatever reason I wrote 2 instead of 4. Yeah, totally wrong answer :/
Yeah I multiplied the coefficient by the exponent like I was using the power rule to find the derivative, then took the rest of the antiderivative correctly.
Also on another recent test I was taking an integral with the limits from 4  10. So when I was subtracting the antiderivatives I should have subtracted the function at 4 from 10. For whatever reason I wrote 2 instead of 4. Yeah, totally wrong answer :/
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 kernelpanic
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
There was a question on last year's physics test that showed a line. Question 1: measure the length of the line. I got it wrong. Everything else, 100%. total 98%. And it wasn't something like the answer being 7.2 cm and I put 7.2 m, or mm, or 72 cm, but I put something wildly wrong. Like 12.4 cm.
I think that's not a stupid mistake at all, what I find difficult is getting used to the dividing by exponent PLUS ONE, not just the exponent.
Havekk wrote:Recently in my Calc class I was finding an antiderivative. It was something like [imath]6x^5+4x^3+2x+3[/imath] or something like that. My answer: [imath]x^6+12x^4+x^2+3x[/imath]
I think that's not a stupid mistake at all, what I find difficult is getting used to the dividing by exponent PLUS ONE, not just the exponent.
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 animeHrmIne
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
kernelpanic wrote:I think that's not a stupid mistake at all, what I find difficult is getting used to the dividing by exponent PLUS ONE, not just the exponent.
Then think of it as dividing by the new exponent. Like, [imath]n+1=m[/imath], so you're really doing [imath](x^m)/m[/imath].
I don't know if that will help . . .
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Biting's excellent! It's like kissing, only there's a winner.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
So I should really listen to my own advice. Had a total panic attack yesterday in my maths test, took me forever to answer a question, and I said that 8pi  3pi = 9pi.
I then proceeded to use an entirely wrong angle in cosine rule (sort of but not really followon from that) and forgot to square root the answer.
Then there was a good old sign confusion, and me saying that (2,0) was in fact (0,2).
Fortunately, they all added up to 4 marks lost, and that was it.
I then proceeded to use an entirely wrong angle in cosine rule (sort of but not really followon from that) and forgot to square root the answer.
Then there was a good old sign confusion, and me saying that (2,0) was in fact (0,2).
Fortunately, they all added up to 4 marks lost, and that was it.
Shivahn wrote:Given RNA, derive a spider monkey.
 kernelpanic
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Secateurs wrote:8pi  3pi = 9pi.
That's a very, very stupid mistake. That happens to me all the time. Most of the marks I lose come from things like this, not from not understanding the question.
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Well, yeah, that's where most of my mistakes come fromthe most basic errors (usually boring and stupid like "164=20" or ending up with [3+6x]/15y). Almost as bad is when you should really know what to do to solve the problem, but it just escapes you.
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
But the worst is when you immediately start dashing off to weave a dreadfully intricate solution when there's really a much more direct and straightforward way of arriving at the intended result.boring bore wrote:Almost as bad is when you should really know what to do to solve the problem, but it just escapes you.
It's like you're faced with this giant brick wall with a door in it, and you need to get to the other side. And you look around on the ground and find all these little bits of what looks like a ladder. So you start picking up the bits and putting them together, and some of them seem to fit to produce something even more ladderlike, but it doesn't seem to make a ladder tall enough to reach over the wall, so you start taking them apart again and putting them together in different ways, and then five minutes before the deadline it finally occurs to you to check whether the door is unlocked.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Yep, that's happened to just about everybody before as well. Gotta give you credit for making your own analogy; most people would have just linked to the "I'm An Idiot" comic. You were sort of doing what you were describing there!
 TheAmazingRando
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Jorpho wrote:But the worst is when you immediately start dashing off to weave a dreadfully intricate solution when there's really a much more direct and straightforward way of arriving at the intended result.
This happened to me recently in my Theory of Computation class, sort of. I won't bother explaining the details, but there's this thing called a ContextFree Grammar and this thing called a PushDown Automata. Logically, the two are equivalent, meaning that any CFG has an equivalent PDA, and viceversa. CFGs are pretty simple to create, whereas PDAs are a lot more difficult, especially when you're doing it on paper and can't really do any debugging on them. CFGs and PDAs both take a string of text as input, and return whether or not the string meets a particular criteria (you would say, whether or not the string is in the language defined by the CFG or PDA). One possible example would be a language that consists of binary strings that are palindromes.
The last question on the test was two different languages we had to create PDAs for. Or so I thought. It seemed like a lot of work for the amount of time we were given for the test, and I just barely finished it before I had to turn it in. When I got the test back, it turned out the problem was ACTUALLY just to design CFGs for them. The TA was impressed with my work, but only gave me partial credit. That's more an example of doing the intricate solution, finishing it, and getting marked off because you didn't do the more direct approach. Which is fair, since the question wasn't "solve this problem," it was "build a CFG that solves this problem," but it was still frustrating.

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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I regularly make stupid mistakes, they're usually only a couple points, no big deal in the future scheme of things. Like my chem quiz I got back today, 1 point for not writing units, the only point I missed on the exam. I've never strived for 4.0, so little mistakes don't bother me, I look at em, go 'ooooooooh, damnit' and move on.
I've always chalked it up to my brain doing many many many things at once, it's bound to get something mixed up once and a while, but the overall percentage is pretty good.
I've always chalked it up to my brain doing many many many things at once, it's bound to get something mixed up once and a while, but the overall percentage is pretty good.
 EvilDuckie
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Not realizing the back of the sheet had a bunch of questions until about 20 minutes before the end of the test was a pretty bad one. Still managed to finish it on time and get a decent grade, so I guess it worked out in the end.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Yep do that all the time. On my AP econ test i just took some how i got 10/4=2.25 but as long as I know the concepts I'm using on the test i don't really mind losing a point for 1 miscalculation.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Do you guys really only lose 1 or 2 points for each dumb mistake? I would've thought that if you'd gotten the right answer but had written it the wrong way or only slightly corrupted it, then yes, that could in some cases only be 2 or so points off, but I was under the impression that getting simple arithmetic wrong and having a wrong answer as a result would merit a full question's worth of point deduction.
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
No, in maths usually we only get 1 or 2 marks off (depending on how large the mistake is/how many marks the question is out of) and the teacher marking it gives 'followthrough' marks, so that we get credit for knowing how to get to the answer. They're slightly harsher in physics, but screwing up an answer in physics can have much larger implications than in maths .
Mind you, this is high school, not uni. I'd guess that markers at a higher level would be more disposed to mark the entire question wrong.
Mind you, this is high school, not uni. I'd guess that markers at a higher level would be more disposed to mark the entire question wrong.
Shivahn wrote:Given RNA, derive a spider monkey.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I'm in the 9th grade, getting most of my radical ideology from my math teacher. It's not that he takes off full points every time we make a slip up; if he did, the whole class would be in pretty deep trouble gradewise. But he does seem intent on at least somewhat preparing us for next year's teacher, who will not be so forgiving as he is.
"Followthrough" marks seem pretty awesome! I wish our school used them.
"Followthrough" marks seem pretty awesome! I wish our school used them.
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Do US exams not give followthrough marks? UK GCSE and Alevels always do.
So on a five mark question you would lose one for the mistake, and (only about half of the time) another for getting the wrong answer. We also have 'UMS' scaling, whereby "100%" could actually be 95% or 90% depending on how well people did. The examiners set a cutoff; anything above gets full marks.
So on a five mark question you would lose one for the mistake, and (only about half of the time) another for getting the wrong answer. We also have 'UMS' scaling, whereby "100%" could actually be 95% or 90% depending on how well people did. The examiners set a cutoff; anything above gets full marks.
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 mmmcannibalism
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Game_boy wrote:Do US exams not give followthrough marks? UK GCSE and Alevels always do.
So on a five mark question you would lose one for the mistake, and (only about half of the time) another for getting the wrong answer. We also have 'UMS' scaling, whereby "100%" could actually be 95% or 90% depending on how well people did. The examiners set a cutoff; anything above gets full marks.
Not sure on individual teachers, but the AP tests which can give college credit while in high school do this for the free response part of the test. If you make a mistake like 1+1=2 they take off a point then grade the rest of the problem as if you hadn't messed that step up.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I once answered a math test problem with f(t) = and a function in terms of x. Had I swapped out all the x's with t's, it would've been completely correct. Instead I ended up with one point short of a perfect score.
On another math test, I had a completely perfect paper before I started to check my work. With about a minute left, I reached the easiest question on the entire test in my doublechecking, and began to doubt myself because I made an arithmetic error when redoing the problem in my head. So I changed it at the last minute from the correct answer to an incorrect answer. Once again, one point short of perfect.
Then came one occasion on a science test. On one multiplechoice question, the answers were written on the test like this:
Having watched too much Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, I immediately interpreted them as:
The answer was one of B or C (don't remember). I knew it, but marked the opposite one. You guessed it, one point short of perfect.
On another math test, I had a completely perfect paper before I started to check my work. With about a minute left, I reached the easiest question on the entire test in my doublechecking, and began to doubt myself because I made an arithmetic error when redoing the problem in my head. So I changed it at the last minute from the correct answer to an incorrect answer. Once again, one point short of perfect.
Then came one occasion on a science test. On one multiplechoice question, the answers were written on the test like this:
Code: Select all
A C
B D
Having watched too much Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, I immediately interpreted them as:
Code: Select all
A B
C D
The answer was one of B or C (don't remember). I knew it, but marked the opposite one. You guessed it, one point short of perfect.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
This, I can tell you is very false. I have let students go without taking off any marks for very minor mistakes, and have gotten let off for very minor mistakes from profs as well. I mean, I am not going to care if you have a single typo in a 1 page proof.Secateurs wrote:Mind you, this is high school, not uni. I'd guess that markers at a higher level would be more disposed to mark the entire question wrong.
Anyways, for math, I am amazed at the amount of people who do not sub in the values they solved for. It helped me got away from many mistakes. Another thing to try is to sub in obvious or random values (like x= 0).

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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
A current professor of mine has a policy which he states simply as:
"No credit will be given for incorrect answers."
Needless to say, this can be quite agonizing. I believe that my whole class laughed on hearing me shout "FUCK!" upon realizing that I had lost a letter grade because of a sign error.
"No credit will be given for incorrect answers."
Needless to say, this can be quite agonizing. I believe that my whole class laughed on hearing me shout "FUCK!" upon realizing that I had lost a letter grade because of a sign error.
 kernelpanic
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
mmmcannibalism wrote:If you make a mistake like 1+1=2
But... but... it does...
I'm not disorganized. My room has a high entropy.
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 mmmcannibalism
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
kernelpanic wrote:mmmcannibalism wrote:If you make a mistake like 1+1=2
But... but... it does...
I think this warrants a discussion on how hilarious it is that I made a mistake in describing in a mistake and the irony of of a mistake being the correct answer.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
Usually those kind of mistakes can be avoided by analyzing the problem before solving it.
Ie. Figure out what range the answer can be in, what units the answer are supposed to come out in and what the sign is supposed to be.
if I'm supposed to find a enzymes rate constant I know it's supposed to be a positive number, I know the units must be M^1 s^1 and I know the upper limit is roughly 10^9
Knowing that, most results of stupid mistakes can be ruled out.
Ie. Figure out what range the answer can be in, what units the answer are supposed to come out in and what the sign is supposed to be.
if I'm supposed to find a enzymes rate constant I know it's supposed to be a positive number, I know the units must be M^1 s^1 and I know the upper limit is roughly 10^9
Knowing that, most results of stupid mistakes can be ruled out.
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Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I was doing boolean algebra and I accidentally dropped a bar off of one of the variables because it blended in with my erasures.
And I'm 2.
Re: Stupid mistakes on Tests.
I got halfway through a question (the sort of question that you do 4 of in a 3 hour paper) on a physics finals paper, and had this sudden awful realisation that it said "transverse", not "longitudinal".
Restart job. I came out shaking from working so fast.
Years earlier, on my O level Woodwork practical exam (yes, I'm dating myself here) I got two of the bits of wood confused and only realised after I'd started cutting. I spent the next 3 months hoping I'd screwed up badly enough to get a U, which then wouldn't be on the certificate at all, as opposed to a D or E.
I got an A, so goodness knows what everyone else did
Restart job. I came out shaking from working so fast.
Years earlier, on my O level Woodwork practical exam (yes, I'm dating myself here) I got two of the bits of wood confused and only realised after I'd started cutting. I spent the next 3 months hoping I'd screwed up badly enough to get a U, which then wouldn't be on the certificate at all, as opposed to a D or E.
I got an A, so goodness knows what everyone else did
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