Strategies for Students to Check Their Own Math Answers
Often the answer is “yes,” but if it’s not, I won’t take the paper until the student does check their work. So, they go back to the assessment and ‘check’ for a couple minutes and are ready to hand the assessment in again.
How do they do this math checking?
Do you know what I’m going to say?
Here’s what my math students often do (until I teach them math checking strategies) – they look at the math questions, basically make sure that all the questions were answered, and say they’ve checked their work.
Unless they are clearly taught otherwise, many students seem to believe that “checking your math work” means “checking to see if everything is done.”
Five Strategies for Checking Math Answers
They aren’t always thrilled by the extra time and effort this math checking takes, but they do admit that it helps:-)
1) Redo the math problems, on a separate piece of paper, without looking at the work that was already done.
- When students look at the work they already did, it influences them and they sometimes make the same mistake again.
After redoing the math problem, they compare their original math work and answer with the redo. This can take a while, but when students are ready to hand in an assessment with lots of class time left, I recommend they take the time to do this.
2) Use the opposite operation to check, if possible. If the problem was an addition problem, subtract one of the addends from the sum. If it was a division problem, use multiplication to check, and so on.
3) Ask whether the answer is logical.
If the problem was 2.56 x 7.91, an answer of 2.02496 (instead of 20.2496), is not logical.
- This is where their estimating skills come in to play. I take a lot of time in my math instruction to model estimating and how to determine if an answer to a math problem is reasonable.
4) Substitute the solution into the equation, if possible. If the solution is correct, the equation will be true.
5) If the test includes word problems, reread each problem carefully to be sure all of the information was understood correctly.
- Look for numbers that are written as words rather than digits.
- Be sure the answer actually answers the question the problem is asking.
I created a How to Check Your Math Work reminder sheet for students to keep in their notebooks. You can download it if you’d like – there’s a colored version and a black and white version, in case you want to print on colored paper.
What strategies for checking math answers do you teach students?
How do digital assessments impact the math checking?