On Examination Day(s)

The day before the exam:

Final preparation

  • Review summaries and notes
  • Go over the most difficult things

Organisation

  • Make sure you have the correct information about the date, time and location
  • Make sure you have all of the things you will need during the exam (and extra pens)
  • Set your alarm and a back-up system
  • If you can’t sleep, just rest and try to think about something pleasant

Look after yourself

  • Eat and sleep well; drink plenty of water
  • Allow time for relaxation and light exercise
  • Don’t cram into the evening
  • Think positively

On the day

  • Eat a good breakfast or lunch (not too heavy)
  • Re-check time and location
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam (but don’t be too early)

During the exam:

Organisation

  • Check you have the correct exam paper; check all pages
  • Check the number of questions you must answer, marks allocated to each question, and types of answers required
  • Read the questions carefully at least twice
  • If you think there is something wrong with the exam paper, ask the invigilator

Time management

  • Plan out your time for each section or question and write these timings down where you can check them
  • Tackle the easiest questions and the ones worth the most marks first (tick these before you start)
  • Don’t spend too long on any one answer
  • If you are having trouble with a question, move to another and come back to this one later
  • If you run out of time, jot down some points to try to get some marks
  • Towards the end of the exam, read over your answers and add anything that might get you extra points (these sometimes occur to you later)

Planning

  • Underline key words and ‘direction’ words in questions (summarise, analyse, justify) so you know what kind of response is required
  • Write brief outlines of the questions you are going to answer with key points, supplementary points and examples (but don’t spend too much time on this)
  • Jot down ideas as you go
  • For multiple choice questions, form an answer first before looking at the options and then match your answer to the choices given; read all of the alternatives to decide which is the best option; if you don’t know the answer, eliminate those you know are definitely wrong and then make a guess

Writing

  • Make sure your writing is readable
  • Be concise and make sure that what you write is relevant; don’t waffle or ‘pad out’
  • Keep sentences relatively short and straightforward
  • Show your calculations

Dealing with stress or panic

  • Breathe deeply
  • Close your eyes, shrug your shoulders hard and then let your arms and hands drop; take a deep breath, then slowly exhale and say ‘relax’ to yourself
  • If you have a mental block, on a spare piece of paper, jot down any words you can think of and key questions (who? what? where?) to prompt your memory
  • Avoid writer’s cramp, shake your hand occasionally
  • Avoid neck tension by occasionally moving your head slowly from side to side