Tomorrow is my exam

The day you’ve been dreading has finally arrived. Tomorrow you’re going to have to sit in that exam hall and somehow remember everything you’ve learnt over the past year. Forget staying up all night and cramming, instead, chill out and read The Mix's advice on what to do if you have an exam tomorrow.

A group of young people are sitting in an exam hall. Behind them are plants and a pile of books.

The night before an exam

So you’re panicking and yelling “tomorrow is my exam”, at the top your lungs followed by, “I can’t believe I have a test tomorrow”. Let’s get this misconception out of the way first: DO NOT pick up a textbook and attempt to have the info magically enter your brain overnight. 

Instead, get some fresh air; the exercise will help reduce your stress levels. Then go back home and lay some clothes out, check your exam timetable, and pack your bag with the right equipment for the exam. It’s also crucial to get an early night; staying up til 4am with your study materials trying to cram usually just makes remembering information a lot harder for your brain. 

And if you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t lie there thinking, ‘I have an exam tomorrow’ on repeat – get up and make a warm milky drink. Honestly, if you’ve stuck roughly to your revision plan and had a good study session the week before then you should be absolutely fine. But in case you’re still worried, we’ve also got some tips for dealing with exam stress here, which could help.

Tips for the day of an exam

The day of your “I have a test tomorrow” nightmares has finally come around, but that doesn’t mean you can’t nail it. If you want to give yourself the best shot for success on your exam day, follow these tips:

  • 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, just pause for a minute and take a few deep breaths. We’re sure you’ve followed our amazing studying tips so the info is somewhere in your head. You’ve just gotta have faith that  it’ll get to you eventually. This is why both teachers, and us tbh, recommend moving on if you get stuck on a particular question. You can always come back to it later. 

During the exam

Push away the “I have an exam tomorrow” jitters and put your game face on. Once you’re in that exam hall, there’s no turning back. So it’s worth having an idea of how you want to attack the paper beforehand. Luckily, we’ve done the thinking on your behalf: 

  1. Find your desk and concentrate on keeping your cool. If you’re feeling panicky, focus on breathing slowly and deeply. 
  2. 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. 
  3. After that, make a rough plan of how long to spend on each section, and what you need to cover in each question, and try to stick to it.

How to answer exam questions

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

  • If it’s an essay paper, write a short essay plan (e.g., paragraph headings and bullet points). Make sure to keep referring back to the plan during the essay. If you do end up going in a completely different direction, then cross out the plan once you’re done to avoid confusing the marker. 
  • For multiple choice papers, remember to read the questions extra carefully.
  • For a science or maths test, it’s always a good idea to show your working and/or thinking behind the answer. You could pick up some marks for your method even if the final answer is wrong. 
  • In language exams, try to use different forms of verbs and tenses to show the examiners that you really understand the language!

We should mention that if you don’t understand a question, it’s better to feel a bit silly asking the supervisor about it than messing up the exam.

Near the end of the exam

Always leave a few minutes at the end of the exam for double-checking your answers (a rough time schedule at the start of the exam might help with this). And don’t forget to turn your paper over to check if there are any questions at the back.  

It’s also important to ensure that your name or ID number is on every answer sheet, along with the date and other exam details, to stop things getting lost. These tiny details might end up getting you a fail if they’re not done right on a public exam, i.e. GCSE or A-level.

After the exam

You can finally breathe now. It’s over. No more waking up at 5am thinking “tomorrow is my exam”. 

Our final bit of advice is to avoid getting sucked into endless conversations about exam answers 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. This could make you worry about it for weeks, only to end up having been right all along. 

We should also mention that you only get your papers back for GCSEs or A-levels under special circumstances e.g. an appeal. This means that it’s highly likely you’ll never know exactly what questions you got right or wrong. 

What do you do when you have a test or exam tomorrow? Let us know your tips on our discussion boards.

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 19-Mar-2022