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  • 11 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Doing SAS Assignments

    April 20, 2023
    Donna Schull
    Donna Schull
    United Kingdom
    Donna has worked with over 1200 clients and has a PhD in statistics. She has helped all her clients get good grades in SAS assignments.

    Are you having trouble with your SAS projects and assignments? Don't worry—you're not the only one. When working with SAS, a lot of students make the same mistakes, which can be frustrating and cause them to lose points. In this blog post, we'll talk about 11 common mistakes that you should try to avoid when working on SAS assignments. By learning how to avoid making these mistakes, you will be able to do your SAS assignments and get better grades. So, let's dive in and talk in depth about these common mistakes.

    1. Failing to Understand the Problem
    2. One of the most common mistakes that students make on SAS assignments is that they don't understand the problem. To avoid making mistakes, it's important to read the problem statement carefully and make sure you understand it. If you rush through the problem statement, you might misunderstand it and come up with the wrong answer. It's important to figure out what the problem statement says about the goal, variables, and limits.

      Also, many students don't ask questions about the problem statement to make sure they understand it. If you don't understand something, it's always best to ask the teacher or online SAS tutors. If you understand the problem statement, it will be easy for you to come up with a good solution and write your SAS assignment. So, take the time to read the problem statement and make sure you understand it before moving on to the solution.

    3. Using the Wrong Procedures
    4. Students also often make the mistake of using the wrong procedure in their SAS projects. SAS has a huge library of procedures, and if you choose the wrong one, you could get wrong results or even make a mistake. So, it's important to know what each procedure is for and choose the right one that fits the needs of the assignment.

      Students can avoid making this mistake by carefully reading the assignment instructions and figuring out the exact steps that are needed to solve the problem. It's also important to know the basics of each procedure and what it can do so you can choose the best one. Using the wrong method not only wastes time, but also makes the results less accurate, which affects the grades in the end. So, before turning in their SAS assignments, students need to take the time to choose the right procedure and double-check it.

    5. Not Using the Right Syntax
    6. When working on assignments, one of the most common mistakes SAS students make is not using the right syntax. SAS has a specific set of syntax rules that must be followed for the code to run correctly. Even small mistakes in syntax can cause the program to give wrong results or even fail.

      To avoid making this mistake, it is important to learn the rules and conventions of SAS syntax. You can do this by reading the documentation for SAS and writing code often. Use an editor or integrated development environment (IDE) that shows syntax errors as they happen.

      Break up your code into smaller pieces that are easier to work with. This makes it easier to find syntax mistakes and fix them before they get worse. Lastly, check your code twice for syntax errors before you run it, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you don't understand something.

    7. Not Checking for Missing Values
    8. It is very important to check for missing values when working with data in SAS assignments. If you don't, you might come to the wrong conclusions and analyses. There are many things that can cause values to be missing, like mistakes when entering data or missing data points.

      You can use the "PROC FREQ" procedure in SAS, which gives you a frequency table of your data, to see if there are any missing values. The table shows how many values are missing and how many are not. You can also check for missing values in numeric variables by using the "PROC MEANS" procedure.

      Make sure to handle missing values in the right way based on how your assignment tells you to. For example, depending on the analysis being done, you may need to leave out or make up missing values.

      In short, when you work on SAS assignments, you should always check for missing values as part of the data preparation process.

    9. Not Getting Rid of Duplicate Observations
    10. In SAS assignments, it's important to get rid of any observations that are made more than once. If you don't do this, you might make mistakes in your analysis or get wrong results. When two or more rows in your dataset have the same values for all variables, this is called a "duplicate observation." This can happen because of mistakes in entering the data, merging or adding data, or other things.

      You can use the "SORT" procedure in SAS to find and get rid of duplicate observations. Then, you can use the "NODUPKEY" or "NODUP" option to get rid of duplicate observations. You can also use the "NODUPRECS" option with "PROC SORT" to get rid of duplicates. Before you do any analysis, you should make sure there are no duplicates in your data. This will make sure that your results are accurate and reliable.

    11. Not Defining Variable Correctly
    12. Students often make the mistake of not defining variables correctly in their SAS projects. This can lead to mistakes or results you didn't expect in your output. When defining variables, it is important to make sure that the type of variable matches the type of data you are working with. For example, if you are working with numbers, the variable should be defined as a number variable, not a character variable.

      The length of the variable is another important thing to think about. If the length is too short, you might get truncation errors or values that are missing. If the length is too long, on the other hand, it can waste memory and slow down your code. Make sure to give the variable the right length based on how big the data is likely to be.

      It is also important to set up the variable correctly. This includes setting the format for date and time data as well as numerical data like money or percentages. If you don't, you might get wrong results or have trouble figuring out what they mean.

      To avoid this mistake, you should always check the definitions of your variables before running your code. Also, it's a good idea to add comments to your code to explain what each variable is for and how it works.

    13. Not Testing Your Code
    14. When working on an SAS project, not testing your code is one of the worst things you can do. Testing your code is a must if you want to find any bugs or mistakes in it. It can help you find problems early, before they get worse and cause your code to break.

      Start by running your code on a small amount of your data to test it. This can help you find syntax mistakes and other problems before running your code on the whole dataset. Also, you might want to run your code with different parameter values to make sure it works in all possible situations.

      You should also use a debugging tool in SAS to help you find any mistakes in your code. The SAS log is a great way to find syntax mistakes and other problems. The log tells you how your code is being run, including any errors that happen.

      In short, you should always test your code carefully to make sure it works the way you want it to. In the long run, this will save you time and trouble and help you finish your SAS assignment well.

    15. Failing to Use Macros
    16. Macros are an important part of programming in SAS, and they can save you a lot of time and work. With macros, you can save a group of instructions that you can use in different parts of your program. They can make your code easier to read, more efficient, and less likely to have mistakes.

      Not using macros when it makes sense is a common mistake in SAS programming. This can cause duplicate code, which makes your program harder to read and keep up-to-date. When you use macros, you can also avoid making mistakes that could happen if you wrote the same code over and over again by hand.

      In SAS, you need to use the %macro statement to define macros before you can use them. Then, you can use the %macro statement, followed by the macro name and any arguments, to call the macro. Macros can be used to do a lot of different things, like change data, make reports, and do analysis.

      It's important to remember that macros can be very helpful, but they can also be hard to use properly. When working with macros, it's best to start small and test them thoroughly to make sure they work the way you want. Also, it's important to make sure that macros are properly documented so that other users can understand how they work and how to use them.

      In general, using macros in your SAS programming can save you time, cut down on mistakes, and make your code more efficient and easier to understand. So make sure to include them in your programming process and don't make the common mistake of not using them when they're needed.

    17. Not Using Procedures to Their Full Potential
    18. SAS has a lot of different ways to help users change and analyze data. But many users don't use these procedures to their full potential, which can cause errors or make their SAS assignments less effective.

      For example, some users may rely too much on the basic PROC MEANS procedure to summarize data when more advanced procedures like PROC UNIVARIATE or PROC TABULATE offer more options and flexibility. In the same way, some users may only use the basic PROC PRINT procedure to output their data, even though other procedures like PROC REPORT or PROC SQL offer more advanced formatting and customization options.

      To avoid making this mistake, it is important to learn about all of the SAS procedures and what they can do. To do this, you can read the SAS documentation, take online courses or workshops, or ask an SAS tutor or expert for help. By using the right steps for your task, you can save time and make your SAS assignments more accurate and efficient.

    19. Not Documenting your code
    20. It is important for SAS assignments to have good documentation of the code, but this is often overlooked. Many students skip this step or do it badly, which can cause confusion and mistakes later on. If you don't document your code, it can be hard for other people (or even you) to figure out what you were thinking and what each section of code is for. This can make it hard to change the code or add new features in the future.

      Take the time to document your code well as you write it to avoid making this mistake. Use comments to explain what each piece of code is for and what steps you are taking to get where you want to go. Also, you might want to add notes about any assumptions you made or possible limits of the code. Doing so will help make sure that both you and other people who may need to work with your code in the future can understand it.

    21. Not Seeking Help When You Need It
    22. SAS users often make the mistake of not getting help when they need it. Several things can cause this to happen. Some users might not want to ask for help, for example, because they don't want to look stupid or because they don't want to bother other people. But it's important to remember that SAS is a complicated tool, and it's not unusual to run into questions or problems that you can't solve on your own.

      Users of SAS who need help can use a lot of different resources. One of the most obvious is the SAS documentation, which has a lot of information about how SAS works, how to program, and how to analyze data. There are also a lot of resources on the SAS website, such as discussion forums, blogs, and tutorials.

    In addition to these tools, many SAS users find it helpful to connect with other SAS users through online communities or professional organizations. These groups can give you access to a network of peers who can help you out and give you advice. They can also help you find jobs and other professional resources.


    SAS assignments can be hard, but you can do them if you don't make these mistakes. Remember that you should always start by figuring out what the problem is and choosing the right steps to solve it. Pay close attention to the syntax and make sure you know how to deal with missing values and duplicate observations. Correctly define your variables and test your code often, using macros when they make sense. Make sure you use all of the tools that SAS gives you and carefully document your code. By using these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can do well on SAS projects and assignments and do well in school and your career.

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