My exam is tomorrow!

You've been revising for weeks (or a day or two) and now your exam is actually tomorrow. Don't cram the night before, instead, chill out and read The Mix's advice on how to prepare for the test.

girl with piles of books

Come on, you're not going to get through all of those the night before.

The night before the exam

Get out for some fresh air; the exercise will help reduce your stress levels. Lay some clothes out, check your exam timetable, and pack your bag with the right equipment for the exam. Try to get an early night; sitting up late ‘cramming’ often makes things worse and confuses your memory. If you’re having trouble sleeping, make a warm milky drink. If you’ve stuck roughly to your revision plan, you should be OK.

The day of the exam

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Wear comfortable clothes, with layers to take off if you overheat. Get to the exam room in plenty of time, so you don’t end up rushing and panicking yourself. Don’t try last-minute revision outside the exam room, you will probably mess up what you’ve already learned. If your mind goes completely blank, remember that most people know more about a subject than they think they do.

During the exam

Find your desk and concentrate on keeping your cool. If you’re feeling panicky, concentrate on breathing slowly and deeply. When you are told to turn over the paper, never start writing straight away. Spend a few minutes reading the instructions and the questions carefully a couple of times. Make a rough plan of how long to spend on each section, and what you plan to cover, and stick to it.

Answering the questions

Start by picking the question you think you can answer the best.

  • If it’s an essay paper, write a short essay plan (e.g. paragraph headings) and cross the plan out when you’re finished. If you run out of time, leave the plan in your notes – you may pick up some extra marks this way
  • For multiple choice papers, remember to read the questions extra carefully

If you don’t understand something, it’s better to feel a bit silly asking the supervisor about it than messing up the exam.

In language exams, try to use different forms of verbs and tenses to show the examiners how good you are! In science and maths exams, if you need to do calculations, show all your working out – you could pick up a few points for using the correct method, even if your final answer is wrong.

At the end

Leave a few minutes at the end of the exam for double-checking your answers. Make sure your name or ID number is on every answer sheet, along with the date and other exam details, to stop things getting lost.

After the exam

It’s over. Don’t get sucked in to endless discussions of the exam with all the other stressed-out students outside. They always seem to know the best answer to question 9B, and it’s never the same as yours. You could end up worrying about it for weeks, when you were right all along.

Next Steps

  • Does pulling an all-nighter really work? We want to know your best revision hacks and tips for staying calm during an exam over at our Exam Hacks campaign on Your Voices.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015