The time has come. Exams are upon us, and it’s time to face the music. You’d have to be extremely confident - or worryingly relaxed - not to be feeling pretty nervous right now. Thankfully, we’ve come prepared to give you the best advice possible with these ten tips on how to make it through any exam you’ll face.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Don’t stay up late cramming. Don’t try and take your mind off everything with a Netflix binge. Instead, make sure you get to bed early. Being refreshed and well-rested will make a huge difference for those exams the next day.
2. Have everything you need ready the night before
Save yourself the stress and worry of frantically hunting for your calculator with your exam an hour away and you about to miss your bus. Having all the materials you need ready to go will mean you get to go into the exam with nothing on your mind except the exam itself.
3. Bring water into the exam
Even if you’re not a big water drinker, there’s no harm in having something to drink at hand. Best case scenario, you don’t need it; worst case, you find yourself seriously dehydrated - and will have a water bottle at hand to quench that thirst. But remember, don’t go too crazy and drink the whole bottle and need to go to the toilet 15 times in the exam. Find the line.
4. Give yourself enough time to read every question carefully
There’s an understandable anxiety that creeps in when you spend too long in an exam without writing, but making sure you understand exactly what the question is asking you is of vital importance. It’s much better to take five minutes to read a question, fully grasp it, think, then answer, rather than taking one minute to read before spending an hour writing something that doesn’t properly answer the question.
5. Don’t go overtime on a question
If you find yourself not quite finished a question, but you’ve reached the end of the allocated time for that question, move on. Even though you might just want to get it done quickly, staying within your planned time per question is a much better idea than spending the rest of the paper playing catch up. You will probably have time to come back to it at the end, but for the time being, stick to your structure and carry on with the exam.
6. Keep track of the time, all the time
While we’re on the subject of time, making sure you’re aware of the clock at all times is pivotal. Obviously you don’t want to spend the whole exam looking at the time - you would get nothing done - but keeping track of how long you have left on a particular question is key to knowing where you should be and using your time efficiently.
7. If you can’t answer it, move on
It is never fun when you’re faced with a question you just don’t know how to answer. The best thing you can do in that situation is to move on. Ideally, you’ll be able to come back to it at the end and figure it out, but either way, stressing yourself out by spending ages agonising over it will get you nowhere. But for a subject like Maths, it’s definitely worth scribbling down some working out before you move on – you never know, you might just get half a mark here and there.
8. If you don’t know, guess
If you do get to the end of the exam and come back to the question and can’t figure it out, do not leave it blank. Have a guess. Depending on the question and the subject, you may end up stumbling upon the right answer, but either way, writing nothing means you’ll get nothing. Putting something down, even if you’re sure it’s not fully correct, opens the door to some potential extra precious marks.
9. Don’t worry about others
It’s hard to say which is worse: the girl writing furiously two rows ahead, making you question why you aren’t writing as much, or the guy having a breakdown beside you, infecting you with his stress. Do yourself a favour and ignore both. Focusing on your own exam, instead of those being done by your classmates, will remove unnecessary distractions and keep you on the right path without any mini-heart attacks along the way.
10. When it’s over, forget about it
When that one friend who wants to go through every single question in minute detail starts making their way towards you after the exam, run for it. There’s nothing to be gained from agonising over what you think you got right and what you didn’t, in fact doing so will only negatively affect your mindset for the next exam. Leave it all on the paper and don’t worry about it again until results time rolls around.
Exams are never fun, and getting through can be a bit of a minefield. However, if you follow these ten tips, you’ll give yourself a great chance of surviving the anxious storm of the exam environment, giving the best performance you can, and getting the mark you deserve.