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How to prepare for an exam

We’ve never met anyone yet who enjoys exams or tests – have you?

Exams are when it’s just you, sat at a table often amongst rows of your fellow students (feeling just as nervous by the way) a tutor pacing backwards and forwards and the dreaded clock….

But the trick is don’t panic and take a look at some advice from people who’ve gone through it and survived
Before exams


• Don’t choose the night before to pick an argument; break up with someone; try out that bar you’ve seen in town; try any new foods (vindaloo curry anyone!) or try herbal sleeping pills for the first time. You need to keep your head and body feeling tip top
• Set your alarm clock and make sure it says AM and not PM (this has happened more times than we’d care to mention)
• Do you know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and at what time – probably, but you don’t want the stress if you don’t eh!


• If you have a choice, wear something comfortable and make sure you are warm enough or cool enough
• Ok we’re getting personal here but don’t drink too much that morning (enough said)
• Whatever you do, don’t talk to people about how they’ve revised, what they’ve learnt, how many hours they’ve put in before you go in – it’s well-meaning chat but not that helpful.

Remembering stuff

• Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and don’t tell yourself that you can’t do exams (positive thoughts)
• Talk to yourself and pace up and down– sounds weird but saying it out loud might help you remember the date of that battle in world war one OR if you’re a visual person write down things that just won’t stick at least ten times and then close your eyes and visualize the piece of paper
• An oldie but a goodie – create acronyms for key things like lists, arguments, timelines with words you’ll remember
• If you can, practice writing an exam answer to a set time
• Know when to stop – we would like to dispel the myth that ‘cramming is cool’. If you’re cramming at 3:00am surrounded by empty energy drinks and pizza boxes are you going to a) remember a lot more and be fresh for the morning or b) feel more stressed, lethargic from processed food and get too little sleep.  You know the answer.

tip 1

During and after exams

So you’ve done the hard bit right?  You’ve studied and revised really hard? Ok let’s move on…


• We know it’s cliché but read the question; read the question; read the question (we can not say this enough) and make sure you read all the questions first so you know what’s coming
• Sketch out the format of your answer (because if you do run out of time they can see where you were heading
o start/intro
o Middle section – the big stuff, all your arguments, where you’re going to put your quotes and references
o conclusion
• Don’t get thrown if you see a question worded in a different way or a subject you weren’t expecting. Remember – you know stuff!!
• Watch the clock – however many questions you’ve got divide the time up and leave 10 mins at the end for a read through and finishing touches.
• Make sure you don’t spend too long on a question because you like the subject or because you’re putting off doing a harder question or one that you don’t know as much about. Chances are your exam will be marked for each question so you need to give them all your attention
• Don’t get distracted by people around you and don’t daydream
• It’s quality not quantity – if you see the person next to you dive in and ask for extra paper this does not mean you’re doing something wrong
• Be prepared for hand-cramp and push on through
• Write your name on the paper!


• After the exam do not under any circumstances no matter how tempting share what you put for each answer – it will only make you paranoid
• Reward yourself for a job well done (you did your best) and don’t beat yourself up about things you cannot change. Absolutely do not take any negativity into any future exams you may have that week.

And the good news is there’s no test environment like it again…. (Unless you count your driving test maybe or a job interview – ok perhaps there are some more scary tests heading your way - sorry)

Good Luck!