Tips Before The Night Of An Exam
Everyone finds exams stressful, even if they say they don’t! That feeling of stress is understandable; you want to do well, you usually don’t know what you’ll be asked in the exam, and you’re expected to concentrate and produce a lot of work in a short amount of time. Read on for Meic’s top tips for the night before an exam.
Lots of you will be sitting exams this year, many for the first time after exams were cancelled because of Covid. Meic will be sharing lots of blogs and tips over the next few weeks to help you make it through – click here to see
This article is also available in Welsh. I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma
The night before an exam can often be a stressful one. The exam date has been looming for a while, but it’s suddenly the evening before, and you feel like you haven’t studied enough. That feeling has been the same for young people taking exams for years and years, so don’t feel you’re alone.
It’s normal to feel you need to cram as much revision as possible in the last few hours. But doing this the night before isn’t good for you, your body or your mind. It’s likely to leave you less able to perform well on exam day. Cramming the night before rarely works. The mind doesn’t retain or recall information well when under pressure, overtired, or undernourished. So, here are some of our top tips for preparing yourself the night before an exam.
Go over the things you know
If you haven’t learnt it before, now is not the time for new knowledge. Your brain is not likely to remember new information at this late stage. Helping your brain recall information you’ve already learnt is a better idea. Some of the best ways to do this are:
- Asking a friend or family member to test you using your own materials. You’ll get used to recalling information as requested and can visualise your own notes come tomorrow’s exam.
- Redraw/rewrite your notes rather than just re-reading them. This helps commit them to your brain’s longer-term memory, allowing you to recall them easier tomorrow.
- Use mind maps/spider diagrams rather than conventional note-taking. Your brain responds better to recalling information using connections, visuals, and associations, helping you remember more than simply writing down sentences.
Look after your brain
- Exercise: if you can, try and fit in some higher intensity exercise in the evening to get the blood, oxygen and nutrients pumping through your brain. Exercise is very good at helping improve your memory and problem-solving skills and can also help you get a good night’s rest.
- Drink: drinking a good amount of water is essential for our brains to work at their best and help them keep calm. Hydrating is key! Ensure you drink plenty of water (avoid sugary drinks and caffeine).
- Eat: Our brains need food to work properly. Not just any old snacks, but healthy vitamins and protein. Try to make sure your dinner the night before the exam has plenty of vegetables and some meat, fish, or vegetarian substitute. Try your best to avoid sugary snacks – sugar can have a hyperactive effect on your brain and reduce its ability to focus and remain calm.
- Sleep: The first thing many people sacrifice the night before an exam, but one of the most important to protect. Your brain needs good quality sleep, or it won’t be able to work at its best the next day. It’s normal to feel anxious the night before an exam, which can disrupt our sleep. That’s why it’s important to reduce your sugary snacks, drink water, and do some exercise to help dispel those anxious feelings and leave your brain able to rest.
Prepare ahead to minimise morning stress
Avoid unwanted stress and distractions in the morning by getting everything ready to go the night before. Think about what you’ll want throughout the day so you can rest easy knowing it’s all good to go.
- Get your bag, clothes, lunch, drinks, revision notes, and stationery ready.
- Create a feel-good playlist and charge your headphones. Consider a morning meditation or mindfulness routine to start the day right. Try the Calm or Headspace apps for some excellent guided sessions.
- Most importantly, grab yourself an early bedtime. Avoid screens to help your brain rest and prepare itself for the next day.
It’s normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed
Everyone gets anxious before an exam – it’s perfectly normal. This isn’t the same as long term anxiety issues. The good news is this sort of specific situational anxiety can be lessened with some simple techniques.
- Recognise the signs and acknowledge your feelings. This is important for building a sense of control over your mind and body and helps you release some calming chemicals.
- Use calming techniques. Meditation and breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control.
- Talk and share your feelings with friends, family, or a helpline. Talking about how you feel is a great way to get those feelings out of your head and help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with a friend or family member, you can always contact us at Meic (contact details below).
What if I have Covid, or I’m identified as a contact?
If you’re identified as a contact, you don’t have to self-isolate unless you show symptoms within 10 days. Take an LFT test if you start showing any symptoms. If this is negative, you don’t have to self-isolate. Check out the Welsh Government self-isolation guidance here.
Qualifications Wales says that the exam timetable is designed so that if you have to isolate because of Covid or if you are ill, there will be enough of a gap to make sure you’re out of isolation for the next exam. If you’ve managed to take one paper, but haven’t completed all of them, then your grade will be awarded using the result of one paper only. If you have to self-isolate, you should let your school know, and they can tell you more about what happens next.
Check out the Power Up website for exam and assessment guidance, careers advice and wellbeing tips for learners in Wales. Careers Wales, E-sgol, Qualifications Wales, WJEC and Welsh Government have worked together to create lots of resources to help learners taking exams and assessments this year.
Exams and assessments can be tough on anyone, and sometimes you might need to talk things through with someone so that things don’t get on top of you. If you don’t know who to talk to, Meic is here for you every day between 8am and midnight. Our friendly advisers will listen and offer free information, advice and advocacy in confidence. Contact on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.