Skip to main content

Exam day tips

Students taking an exam

Up to 24 hours prior to the exam…

  • The day before, collate all the things you need to take with you e.g. your exam docket and ID; a watch/clock (you can’t use your mobile), and your stationery: calculator, ruler, pencils, highlighters and pens. Buy spares if necessary.
  • Don’t over-study the night before, so you have a clear head on exam day
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Avoid alcohol.
  • Make sure you’ve had some breakfast, even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Know where the exam hall is and how to get there. Allow extra time in case of travel problems. Research somewhere to park if you are driving, and make sure you have money for the parking fee!
  • Before the exam, read some light trivial novel or a gossip magazine – it will help you relax.
  • Don’t talk to anyone about the exam whilst waiting to go into the exam hall – they will only unnerve you about things you suddenly think you don’t know. Chat about anything else!

During the exam

  • Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
  • Stay calm and focus on what you can do.
  • Use your reading time. Assess the paper, decide on the order to attempt questions (if applicable), annotate the question paper, plan your timings, frame answer plans.
  • Read the requirements of the questions first before you read the scenarios. This will make your reading more effective.
  • Answer the question that appears on the exam paper, not the question that you’d like to appear.
  • Start with the section/question that will build your confidence – the one you think looks easiest.
  • Go with your first instinct.
  • Remember the marking guide – this will indicate how many marks each question is worth and consequently what proportion of time you should spend on it and how lengthy an answer is expected.
  • Watch the clock – make sure you have a time allocation plan and stick to it.
  • Ensure you attempt all questions.
  • Layout your answers in a marker friendly way – use white space, headings and underlining. Make sure all answers are clearly numbered. Reference any workings.
  • You will score more marks on the first 10 minutes of a new question than you will gain on the last 10 minutes of the one you are currently working on. Move on when you’ve used your time allocation up.
  • Ask for spare paper well in advance of needing it (keep writing and hold up you other hand!).
  • Remember your exam verbs e.g. think about whether the question is asking you to describe or explain, and what that means.
  • If the requirement includes the word and, make sure you answer the part of the question before and after the word AND. Easily missed.

At the end of the exam

  • Take a deep breath and exhale slowly!
  • Well done – hopefully all your hard work will have paid off.