Have you even gotten lost?
The question asks for x+2. You solve for x and glance over at the answer choices and sure enough find your answer. Sweet! You circle that answer and hurry off to answer the next question.
Whoops! You forgot to re-read the question one last time to make sure you understood what they wanted.
Check the map!
When I’m going someplace new, I frequently check the map to make sure I know where I am going.
Do the same thing when answering math questions.
Read the question. Solve it. Then, BEFORE you glance at the answer choices, RE-READ the question to make sure you answered the question they asked.
My students routinely lose a handful of points on every section because they solved for what they thought the question asked, not for what the question actually asked. Often, I’ll ask them to draw an arrow to the side of the answers to remind them to check the map before they choose an answer. After doing this for several weeks, they internalize the habit and no longer need to draw the arrow.
1. Read the question and solve
2. Don’t look at the answer choices immediately. (Notice that the wrong answer is helpfully listed in the choices. Sneaky!)
3. First, re-read the question.
4. Whoops! I solved for the wrong thing. Solve for the right thing.
5. Now check the answer choices