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How to survive exam day in 10 tweets

So after revising for months, you're feeling pretty confident... but then exam day actually arrives.

The pressure of the exam setting can fluster you, no matter how well you know your stuff. The eerie silence; the ticking clock; the realisation that this is really happening finally...

You may have seen our study tips, but now we have 10 stress-busting 'twips' for the day itself so you can focus on doing your best:

Watch now: How to calm exam nerves


1. Preparation begins the night before.

You have enough to think about on exam day – you don’t want to have to deal with any last-minute stress that can throw you off and result in you showing up to your exam in a flap. 

Sort out everything you need the night before: clothes, your bag, how you’re going to get there (especially if your exam is taking place somewhere other than your school) etc.

2. Come properly equipped.

You might need special equipment for your exam. The most obvious example is a calculator for a maths exam, but could also include pens (more than one and even better if they actually work) and a see-through pencil case. 

On the other hand, make sure you’re well aware of what you can’t take in as this will have a huge impact on your revision eg for an English exam, will you have access to a text, or will you have to remember key quotes?

Check these details with your teacher beforehand.

3. Know when to close the books.

Some people need quiet and space before a big moment like an exam, whereas others prefer to have distractions to keep them from overthinking (and allowing nerves to get the better of them). 

If you’re the latter, talk to friends about something unrelated to put you in a positive mood before going in.

Also, cramming up to the last minute might make you second-guess yourself, rather than help.

Not feeling confident? See your options if your exams go wrong...

4. Take a sneak peek.

Fear of the unknown can be worse than the actual reality.

When the exam begins and you’re allowed to open your paper, take a quick look ahead at what’s coming up; if it’s something you know well, it can give you a boost from the start.

Just make sure you’re allocating the appropriate amount of time to each section, depending on how many marks are up for grabs.

Alternatively, it might be easier to take things one question at a time. See what works best for you when doing past papers as part of your revision.

5. How you respond to a question can mean everything.

Under the pressure of exam conditions, your mind can play tricks on you. If you dive too quickly into answering a question, you might find yourself not quite addressing what’s being asked of you (or even misreading or altogether missing a key word or instruction, that will cost you marks).

Repeat the question to yourself (quietly) a few times so you know exactly what you’re being asked to do.



6. Keep one eye on the time...

Time can fly in an exam. What you don’t want to do is spend too much time on a low mark question (just because you know the material really well) and leave yourself less time for those worth more. 

Again, doing past papers will get you into the habit of allocating the appropriate amount of time to each question or section. It’s no surprise that doing past papers is one of these A* student tips.

7. ...and the other on YOUR paper.

You don’t know what’s going through anyone else’s head, nor what they’ve written or even if they’re doing the “right” thing in the first place. For all you know, the person next to you has made one of the mistakes above and has completely misread the question.

Getting caught up with what others are doing is mental energy that could be better used on your own performance.

8. Breathe.

It’s natural for your heart rate to go up when put into nerve wracking situations – especially ones that you’re not accustomed to, where a lot is happening at once or with a lot riding on them (like an exam).

Concentrating on your breathing will help you process everything and keep your body calm. Try some simple breathing or meditation techniques – there are plenty of apps or videos on YouTube to help.

Mental health and wellbeing tips for students


9. Make the most of your time.

Don’t get cocky and put your feet up if you finish early. Make the most of every minute and go over what you have written. Hopefully you won’t realise that you’ve made one of the mistakes we mentioned above and have completely misread the question.

Having answered all the questions and settled into the exam setting, you might remember other key details that can help boost your marks.

If you don’t do as well as you’d hoped after having wasted any leftover time, you’ll be kicking yourself.

10. Once it’s over, just move on to the next one.

We’ve all been there: you come out of an exam and start discussing what you wrote with friends. Before you know it, you’re doubting everything you wrote and pondering every possible ‘what-if’ scenario.

That initial post-exam chat can’t always be avoided, but try to push an exam out of your mind once it’s over – after all, what can you do until results day to fix it?

Look ahead to the next exam (and if you can learn anything, try to apply it here). Exam season can feel like a marathon, so don’t get too stuck on one exam.

Get more revision and exam tips and hacks

Check out our full revision advice section for further help, including how to be productive with your revision, recovering from a mocks disaster and quick wins to change up your studying.

Watch now: How to revise for your exams

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