It’s the night before the start of your exams and you are ready to go! You have shed blood, sweat and tears and gained a few premature grey hairs preparing for this day. By this point there appears to be no more that you could possibly do to ensure your exam success. However, we have a few handy tips that will provide that extra boost for your big day and actually increase your results.


There is good reason behind why this is “the most important meal of the day”. Eating a nutritious breakfast ensures that your body’s energy levels are good to go and this boosts your brain functioning too. Eat a solid, healthy breakfast such as eggs, whole wheat toast and fruit. If you suffer from a loss of appetite due to nerves, eat a banana so that you at least have some potassium and glucose in your body before you write. Sitting with a grumbly tummy is also very distracting!

Get those Z’s:

One of the most important factors when writing exams is rest. You may feel pressured to cram in as much work as humanly possible, but that’s simply not a good idea. Make an effort to get 8 hours sleep the night before writing so that your mind is alert and clear while in the exam. A lack of sleep will only result in your feeling lethargic and battling to maintain focus while trying to answer questions.

Get up Early:

After a good night’s rest you will wake up refreshed and ready to tackle that exam paper! Try to get to your exam venue early as you never know what may happen on the way and there is nothing worse than arriving last minute, completely frazzled and freaked out with the rush. Leave early and allow yourself at least 20 min before hand to get there. Knowing that you are on time will have you feeling confident and in control.

Pack your “toolbox”:

Whether you are writing Physics or Mathematics, you will need specific “tools” to write your exam to the best of your ability. Don’t wait until the last minute the night before to pack your pencil case. If you require a calculator check the batteries the morning before in case you should need to buy new ones. Make sure you have enough pens, pencils, tippex, high-lighters, a stapler and any other little thing that you might possibly use the next day. Something as simple as having to ask for a pen or a calculator wastes precious time and can really stress you out. 

Start with the Easiest First:

It is extremely seldom that we sit down to write an exam and just sail right on through answering each question in our stride. Exams are tricky and there are always one or two questions that we struggle with. When coming across a question that is of particular difficulty, stop. Take a deep breath, make a little star next to the question in pencil and move on. Rather spend time answering what you know as clearly and accurately as possible and when you are done revert back to the tougher questions and work through them slowly.

Mark Allocation:

When answering exam questions, many students become tense and “just want to get it over with”. This is a serious mistake as it leads to answering quickly and often making careless mistakes. While reading through each section slowly, take the time to check how many marks are allocated to each question. Plan your answers according to the mark allocation and ensure that you write enough.

Focus, Focus, Focus:

There is nothing worse than glancing over at the person next to you and taking note of how anxious they look. When we lend our attention to those around us who are harassed and tense, we only psyche ourselves out by wondering why they have little beads of sweat on their foreheads and what question are they possibly on that is so terrible?! This causes us to doubt our capabilities and breaks our thought patterns. It is vital to stay focused while writing an exam. Finish your question paper, take a deep breath and give yourself a mental high five for your hard work.


We all feel a certain amount of anxiety during exam periods. This is normal. However, it becomes a concern when it affects our abilities to concentrate while writing. When you feel yourself getting nervous and anxious, stop what you are doing and take a few deep breaths. Practice breathing in and out for a few minutes as this will release oxygen to the brain and help you to re-group. Remind yourself that you can only do your best and tackle your work at a steady pace.

After the Exam:

When exiting the exam hall and taking that first fresh breath of freedom, we often find ourselves at a loss for what to actually “do” for the next few minutes. The majority of students flock to join in on conversations with their peers and end up dissecting each others’ answers. Don’t! Please, we implore you to not fall into this trap! Harping on which answers are better and comparing ourselves to others is a dangerous little game that will only add to the grey hairs you have been accumulating the past few weeks while in “prep mode”. Walk away and head on home. Trust in yourself that you did your best and move on.

Take some Chill Time:

We are usually tempted to get home, inhale some lunch and jump right back on that study saddle. Your brain has just carried you through a tough exam and needs a rest. Put your feet up, watch some TV, go for a run or have a nap. But, make the effort to “switch off” for an hour or two at least before delving back into your books
We hope these tips help you to not only conquer your exams on the day, but teach you a few good methods to practice in future.