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

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

The exam season is here: over the next few weeks all your hard work and revision is going to be put to the test.

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 get those exams out of the way. Here are some tips to help you on the night and morning before an exam to help you feel full of confidence when you head into the exam hall.

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

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

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. 

If the exam is taking place at your school or college, 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. 

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

More like this: what to expect from an exam


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.

This could be easier if you make a checklist of stuff to take to each exam – and any particular items for specific subjects (such as maths kit). 

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

"Pack your bag or 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."


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

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

Try to get your head down early - a solid eight hours will do you a huge favour the next day. If you spend an hour before bed winding down and relaxing (not cramming!) you might find it easier drift off.

"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."


3. Prepare a good breakfast

It's the most important meal of the day! 

Seriously, you don't want to be sat in an exam hall feeling starving - and making sure you've fuelled up properly can really help your mental sharpness.

Good stuff to eat in the morning is the kind of food that will give you a slow release of energy - oatmeal, nuts, bananas, that kind of thing.

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


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. 

"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."


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.

"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!'"

Lady Ecliptic

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. 

"Make essay plans the day before an exam 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."

Mason James

"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."

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