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Exams - Top Tips

Everyone gets nervous before sitting exams, but if you are well prepared beforehand you give yourself the best chance of performing well when you are actually in the exam

Here are some of our tips:

  • Don’t stay up late cramming the night before an exam. It is better to get a good night’s sleep and feel refreshed in the morning.
  • The day before the exam don’t try and learn any new material, it is better to spend the time reviewing what you know and having a more general overview of the course material.
  • Make sure you know where each exam is, what time it starts and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Aim to arrive at least ten minutes before the exam starts.
  • Know what you are allowed to take in with you and what you’re not. For example you might need a calculator but probably won’t be allowed to take your notes or mobile in.
  • Prepare everything you need and pack your bag the night before.
  • On the day of your exams get up early and have a good breakfast like porridge or cereal. Eating properly in the morning rather than skipping breakfast  will help your brain function better. See zone one for more healthy eating tips.
  • Know how long each exam is. Read the instructions at the beginning of the paper carefully and work out roughly how long you have got for each section. This means you will be able to pace yourself and should not run out of time.
  • Watch the time closely, if you are going over then go to the next question as it is usually easy to get the first few marks for a question and much harder to get all the marks.
  • If you are answering essay type questions start by planning your answers. Make a list of the key points you want to cover and put them in order. You can refer to this as you write, it will help keep you on track and help you not to forget important points.
  • Some people like to start with the question they can answer the best, it can boost your confidence. If you are lucky and finish early, use the extra time to go back and check your answers.
  • If you've tried techniques to keep calm but you are still really nervous and stressed talk to your class tutor, they may be able to help. You can also read our advice about coping with anxiety in zone 4.

Finally: don’t panic! You will do much better if you are calm and thinking clearly. Remember you can only do your best and even if you don’t do as well as you hoped there are always plenty of other options and careers you can pursue.

  • Exam Stress