If you are taking exams for the first time or not, it’s normal to feel nervous. The key is to give yourself plenty of time and space to revise.
On this page we outline:
- Before your exam (plan, revise and top tips!)
- The day of the exam
- After the exam
- Looking after yourself – emotional wellbeing support
Here we give you tips for before, during and after the exam and how to cope with exam stress.
1. Before Your Exam
Your tutor or teacher should give you the dates of all of your exams. When this happens, take it as an opportunity start planning!
- Grab a calendar (find a free printable online), a notebook or your phone and mark out the dates of each exam.
- Work out backwards to at least 4-6 weeks before each exam to mark a start date of when you will revise each subject.
- Give a copy to your parents/carer so they can help you.
- Read the full details of what is expected from every exam (will it be multiple choice or essay questions? are you allowed your notes? and how long it will last?)
- Pencil in any extra revision classes on offer at your school or college.
You will need to find a way to revise that suits you. Here are some ideas:
- Give yourself plenty of time to go through each subject.
- Ask your teachers for some past papers so you can test yourself against them.
- Put key points into a spider diagram or mind map.
- Use different coloured paper or pens.
- Write key points on cue cards, carry them with you and test on the go!
- Don’t over do it.
Tips and Quizzes on BBC Bitesize Revision: Top revision tips – BBC Bitesize
Keep revision periods short and take lots of breaks. Do a bit of the things you enjoy, move your body so stress doesn't take over. Before you go to sleep after a revision session, recall and recap what you learnt that day - check your notes for anything you can't remember. It will sink in while you sleep...
Try to get a good night sleep before the day of the exam and set your alarm to wake up in good time so you are not rushed getting there.
Here are students from Samuel Ward Academy giving their top tips on coping with exam stress.
2. The Day of the Exam
- Try to keep relaxed on the day of the exam.
- Make sure you have had something to eat and drink before the exam.
- Check which room the exam is in and where you need to go.
- Don’t try to cram in any further revision as it may make you more nervous.
Two exams in one day?
Sometimes, you may have to take more than one exam in a day. That means being a bit more organised:
- Work out what you will do in between both exams.
- Plan a break and have something to eat.
- Find out if there is somewhere where you can go in between each exam. e.g. library or study rooms.
- If you have friend who lives near your school or college, ask if you can go back with them to prepare for your next exam.
- Or arrange for your parent/carer to pick you up and take you back later.
During the Exam
You’ll be asked to line up outside of the room you are taking your exam. When you are invited into the room, head for your desk. Often this desk will have your candidate number placed on it. You’ll need to write this number on your paper.
The invigilator will then start the exam.
Before you start writing:
- Read the instructions on the front of the paper carefully;
- Make sure you know how many questions you should be answering;
- Read the questions slowly, then read them again – it’s all too easy to misread when you are nervous;
- If you have a choice, pick the questions you think you can answer best;
- Allow enough time to answer all the questions and to check back over your work – and try to stick to the right amount of time needed;
- Try not to panic if you are unable to answer a question. Move on to the next question and come back to that one later;
- Take care with your presentation – your answers need to be clear for the examiner to read;
- Plus, don’t forget, you are not allowed to talk to other students or have your mobile phone or MP3 player on, otherwise you may be asked to leave and not allowed to complete your exam.
3. After the Exam
Avoid talking with your friends about the questions you answered as you may start to worry about what you did. Instead, take a break and have something to eat or drink.
You may or may not get worried about your exams and what grades you need to achieve to get into college or uni. To avoid getting stressed out, start planning early, attend revision classes, and talk to your tutor or your parents about your exam revision to help manage your nerves.
‘What can I do if stress is taking over?‘
Look after yourself! If stress is getting the better of you and disrupting your sleep and how you are feeling, it's important to take a step back and make some changes. Read more about 'Stress and Self-care'. Download the Stressheads app - hatch a stress egg and take your stress out by throwing the Stressheads around! For tips and advice around preparing for exams get advice and stories from other young people on The Mix, including revision tips. For looking after yourself during exams take a look at these top tips for young people from the Mental Health Foundation.
Page updated on April 26th, 2023 at 05:34pm