"Stop making Stupid Mistakes" by Richard Rusczyk is just one of the articles available at www.ArtofProblemSolving.com . He suggests techniques that seem obvious, but not using them often gets students in trouble. Even if a student knows how to do the math problem, lack of organization or clarity can easily cause a mistaken answer that could have been easily prevented. Here's a quick synopsis:
1) Read the question–this should be easy. But often a student will complicate the question with expectations and assume a fact or circumstance that really isn't there.
2) Write clearly–so you can easily read your own notes and math processes. In the hurry of the moment, chicken scratches can be misinterpreted and an error in calculation can cause a missed answer. Boo!
3) Organize your work–if your scratch paper is congested with confusing formulas and numbers, it may be difficult to find where you were in the problem-solving process. An organized scratch paper can help you return to the problem and confirm your accuracy or your errors…keep it neat!
4) Be aware of your time–budget your time so that you won't spend too much time on one answer and miss the opportunity to answer others that may be easy for you.
For more details (and some useful graphic examples), read the rest of the article at "Stop Making Stupid Mistakes" And while you're there, look at some of the other really helpful resource information and articles. GREAT SITE!