Identifying silly mistakes

Topic Progress:

Topic Promise: You’ll become aware of what are silly mistakes, and you’ll stop ignoring them as one-off cases.

Topic Duration: 6 minutes


Let me ask you this: do you make any silly mistakes while practicing GMAT questions? If your answer is no, I have to say, you are not practicing enough 🙂

If your answer, like most of ours, is yes, well … good for you! You see a problem.

We all make silly mistakes while taking aptitude tests. I have around 15 years of experience with aptitude tests. I still make silly mistakes. Just recently, while practicing, I solved a question completely, got the correct answer, and yet ended up marking the wrong option. I only found this out while reviewing my answers later on. I’m still trying to figure this out how this happened,by the way. We cannot completely do away with silly mistakes. What we can do is minimise them while preparing for our aptitude test.


Typically when you answer a question with absolute certainty, but on looking at the answers later on you go “How could I do that?” you’ve made a silly mistake. To be exactly clear, let us first classify.

What are silly mistakes, and what aren’t

Identify silly mistakes


There are 2 blunders that we make when it comes to silly mistakes:

  1. We bracket too many things under ‘silly mistakes’
  2. We notice a silly mistake and brush it off with a “surely I’ll not repeat that again”.

Each of these costs us.

  1. Classifying incorrectly under the wrong tag would mean you would not be able to find the root cause, and therefore not fix it.
  2. “Surely I’ll not repeat that again”: The actual test day would not be much different from your practice test days — except maybe you’d have even more pressure, and you’d be in an unknown environment. Conducive for relaxing test taking? I think not.

The first step towards solving any problem is realizing you have one.

So, it is important that you realize:

  • you are making silly mistakes.
  • Making silly mistakes is a problem.
  • If it is a problem, it must be resolved.


I hope this topic has convinced you of the systemic nature of silly mistakes. Remember, if you do not do change anything, nothing will change.

Action Steps:

You and silly mistakes

By now you should: Know what silly mistakes are, and now onward: be cognizant of when you make silly mistakes while practicing.


You may start with the next lesson now if you so desire.

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