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What To Expect On The Day Of Exams 

You may be sitting exams for the first time this year. Here’s a guide to help you know what to expect, so you feel prepared on an exam day.  

Meic has lots of blogs and tips over to help you make it through your exams – click here to see

Various school supplies including notebooks, calculator and pencil case isolated against a white background -for What To Expect On The Day Of Exams blog

What to bring to the exam 

To make sure you’re prepared for the exam, you need to have the right equipment. Depending on the subject, you may need different things, such as:  

  • Black pens 
  • Pencils 
  • Pencil sharpener 
  • Rubber 
  • Ruler 
  • Highlighters 
  • Compass 
  • Protractor 
  • Scientific calculator (for calculator exams only) 

It’s a good idea to store your equipment in a clear pencil case so that you’ve got everything all together. If you can, bring spares, it’s useful if your pen runs out or breaks. 

Bring a clear water bottle into the exam hall with you. If you’re using a disposable plastic bottle, you’ll need to remove the packaging before entering the exam hall.  

Take anything you don’t need out of your pockets before entering the exam hall, including electronics and notes. Your teachers will tell you where to put your coats, bags, and other belongings.

Cartoon man standing in front of huge timetable for What To Expect On The Day Of Exams blog

Before the exam 

Double-check your exam timetable so that you know the exact date and time of your exam.  

Answer some practice questions or try to complete past papers – it’s a great way to know what to expect. 

Remembering your candidate number could be useful. This is a four-digit number that you’ll need to write along with your name on any exams that you are taking. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it, you can ask someone if you forget. 

smartphone forbidden stop sign for What To Expect On The Day Of Exams blog

On the day of the exam 

Exams can be pretty long, so wake up in plenty of time to have a healthy breakfast to help fuel your mind and body.  

Try to get to the exam early to avoid the stress of being late. Once you’re at the location, look at the exam seating plan and note where you will be sitting. 

You’re not allowed to have electronics (like your phone, smartwatch etc.) on you during an exam, even if it’s switched off. If you’re caught, they might stop your exam, so following this rule is essential. Store your electronics safely in your bag before the exam, or don’t bring them at all.  

You are allowed to go to the toilet if you need to, but it’s best to go before starting the exam if you can.

Many people like to look over notes just before an exam to try and cram in more information. Although you may feel like it helps, it can make you feel more stressed. Instead, try to take deep breaths and drink water to help you relax before going in. This can help you get into the right frame of mind to perform to the best of your ability. 

Check you have the right equipment and water bottle ready to take into the exam hall.  

Girl raising hand during exam in exam hall for What To Expect On The Day Of Exams blog

During the exam 

When you enter the exam hall, you’ll need to sit in the seat assigned to you on the seating plan. Once all the students are seated, listen carefully to the given instructions. This will include writing your full name, candidate number, and centre ID number on your exam. You will be told what your centre ID number is.  

There will be written instructions, including the length and equipment needed, on the front of the paper. Raise your hand and ask an invigilator (a person who ensures that exams are being carried out correctly and ensures that everyone follows the rules) for any equipment you don’t have. 

You must not open the exam paper before you are told to do so. When it’s time to start the exam, they will tell you when you can begin. There will be clocks in the exam room for you to keep track of time. 

If you have any questions, need help, or want to leave the room for any reason, raise your hand to ask for help. It could be that you’re not feeling well, or you need to use the toilet. You may be escorted out of the hall and back in again.

You must not turn around, talk, or gesture to any other student in the exam hall.  

Take your time to read the questions carefully. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, don’t panic. Move on to the next question, and you can come back to it later.  

Make sure your written answers are clear, easy to read, and inside the boxes on the paper. If you run out of space, use the paper at the back of your exam booklet or ask for extra paper.  

Remember to focus on yourself. It may be tempting to look at other students to see how they are getting on, but it’s a waste of your time.  

3d realistic circle shaped clock. Vector illustration

At the end of the exam 

You will usually receive a 5-minute warning that the exam will end. This is a good opportunity to try to finish your question, re-try any questions you skipped, and look back over your answers.  

Once the invigilator announces the end of the exam, you must put down your pens and close your papers. Even though it’s the end of the exam, you still aren’t allowed to speak to anyone.  

The invigilators will then come around and collect your exams. Leave any equipment you may have borrowed on the desk.  

Once all the exams have been collected, you will be allowed to leave the exam hall row by row. Remember, some people get extra time in exams and may still be working on their papers. Make sure you respect them and keep quiet until you have left the exam hall. 

If you have additional time and would like to use it, you can continue to work whilst other students are leaving. You will receive a 5-minute warning before the end of your exam. 

Exasperated girl with curly black hair sat on floor with group of friends on their smartphones with backs pressed against wall for What To Expect On The Day Of Exams blog

After the exam 

It’s common for students to get out of the exam hall and start to discuss answers with each other and talk about how they thought the exam went. Sometimes this can be worrying as you may not have the same answers as your friends. Remember that only the examiners will know how you did in your exam until results day.  

Even if you feel the exam didn’t go so well, pat yourself on the back for finishing an exam. Try to remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do about the exam until you get your results. It’s best to focus on what other exams you have coming up and prepare for those.  

If you have an afternoon exam, you may want to start revising straight away for it, but you should take a break straight after an exam. You’ve been sitting in a high-pressure situation for a long time. Grab some lunch, have a drink, and take a walk outside to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.  

Power Up

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. 

Contact Meic

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.