Seven things to do the night before and morning of an exam

alarm clock balanced on textbooks

Simple steps to reduce your stress in the build-up to an exam

The exam season is here, and all your revision is finally going to be put to the test over the next two months.

Soon you’ll be able to spend all summer hanging out with mates or relaxing on a beach somewhere... but not quite yet. 

First, you have to jump the final hurdle and ace those exams. Follow our simple guide to the night and morning before an exam to make sure nothing goes wrong.

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1. Check the date, time and location of your exam

Check, check and double check. Then write it down, and check again. 

If the exam is taking place at your school, college, or university, make sure you know exactly which room or hall it’s in, and how to get there.

If it’s in a different location, make sure you look the place up on Google Maps and plan your route there so you don’t get lost on the way, including looking at any buses or trains you might have to catch to get there. 

It might be helpful to make an exam timetable or note down when and where your exams are on a calendar to familiarise yourself with the dates of each one. 

shawn_o1 says: "Relax. Arrive on time for the exam. Before the exam talk to friends if any, assure them and be assured yourself."

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2. Pack everything you need the night before

Make sure you have everything you need so you can focus on your exam in the morning, and you don’t have to waste time and get flustered by rushing around trying to find your calculator.

It might be useful to make yourself a checklist of items you need to take to each exam – mathematical equipment for your maths exam, or your books and poetry anthologies for your English literature exam. 

You might also need your ID, candidate number and centre number, so check this with your school, college or university beforehand.

999tigger says: "Pack your bag or if paranoid set all the stuff out on the table you will need so you can put them away in a few minutes: pens, snacks, money, calculator etc."

3. Prepare a good breakfast

It's the most important meal of the day! 

Make sure your cupboards and fridge are well stocked with nourishing food that will keep you full and focused for the exam.

Try and eat something healthy that will release energy throughout the day, such as wholegrain cereal, porridge or avocado on toast.

Fruit is also considered great brain fuel, so make sure to top off your breakfast with a banana.

username1292215 says: "Make sure you have a good breakfast (not too much and not too little).

"Your breakfast should have complex carbs, and even better healthy fats/protein. As apparently energy from protein and fats lasts even longer."

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Get a good night's sleep

4. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is much more important than trying to stay up all night revising!

You should aim to get at least eight hours sleep, and spend an hour before bed winding down and relaxing to help you drift off.

If you have trouble getting to sleep, especially if you’re nervous or stressed, resting in a darkened room will help you feel more alert the next morning.

.S.K.T. says: "I would recommend ensuring you get as much sleep as possible, at least 7-8 hours. I can honestly say sleep will drastically improve your performance over last minute anxious cramming."

More like this: our guide to handling exam stress

5. Take a bottle of water

Being dehydrated can make you feel tired, anxious and unproductive.

Take a big bottle of water with you to your exam.

The rules say it needs to be a clear plastic bottle with the label removed. 

jenni:) says: "Personally I'd just drink whatever you usually drink, don't force yourself to drink more or less as this is likely to affect your concentration more."

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Keep hydrated

6. Leave with plenty of time to spare

Make it your goal to arrive at the location of your exam at least 20 minutes before the exam actually starts.

This way you can relax a little when you get there, and it also allows wiggle room for your bus to be late and for you to still make it on time.

Lady Ecliptic says: "Revising in the morning will only put doubts into your head. Get a good night's sleep, have a good breakfast.

"Bring water, eat something that's not going to make you sick, arrive early enough so you can relax and chat with friends so you're not thinking, 'Oh crap, I didn't do this, I didn't do that!'"

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7. Last minute revision?

This one is up to you and how you feel about learning.

It might be your style to flick through your flash cards over breakfast or glance at a mindmap before you go into your exam, or it might not be.

If you do decide to go over your notes, make sure it's stuff you’ve already been revising – it isn’t recommended that you start trying to learn a whole topic from scratch just half an hour before your exam starts. 

username3440160 says: "Up to the day before the exam, I'll be working my ass off going over the relevant textbook, then doing past papers, then going over class questions on repeat.

"The day before the exam is light revision, just making sure content is solidified, doing the most recent past paper and then chilling.

"Day of the exam, good breakfast, and CHILL OUT. Worked too hard to stress. Go into sixth form and have a laugh with my mates. Then go smash the exam. (Got A*A*A* in maths, further maths and economics A-level btw, so worked for me)."

And Mason James advises, the day before an exam, to: "make essay plans for all the possible big questions, print off and answer practice papers, read over a revision guide and after reading over, speak to myself about what I learnt out loud or teach my family."

What tips do you have for before an exam? Do you cram or relax?

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