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Information, Advice and sources of support for young people in Suffolk

Planning for Exams

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:

  1. Before your exam (plan, revise and top tips!)
  2. The day of the exam
  3. After the exam
  4. What can I do about exam stress – 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 and time yourself completing the exam papers.
  • Write key points in a spider diagram, on a mind map or on flashcards – whatever is easiest to test yourself on the go!
  • Use different coloured paper or pens.
  • Get your friends or family to help test you on answers.
  • Record your answers and play them back.

Tips and Quizzes on BBC Bitesize Revision: Top revision tips – BBC Bitesize

Keep revision periods short and take lots of breaks to move your body and do the things you enjoy in between revising - this helps stop you feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

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.

How do you deal 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 about exam stress? cope with exam stress  

If stress is getting the better of you and disrupting your sleep and how you are feeling, it's important to get some support.
We have gathered the below resources which give tips and advice on dealing with exam stress:

TheSource 'Stress and Self-care'
YoungMinds Exam Stress
Download the Stressheads app
The Mix revision tips
Mental Health Foundation

1. Do the best you can – everything within your control.
2. Ask your high-achieving friends for help – Reading someone else’s essay or marked test paper can help you see why they are scoring higher than you.
3. Know your strengths – Set realistic goals based on how good you are at that subject then you’re more likely to achieve them.
4. Don’t measure yourself against others – Focus on improving yourself to make you happier, rather than trying to outdo others.
5. You are more than a grade! Remember numbers don’t sum up all the things that make you you.
6. Look after yourself – Seek support if you’re struggling. Talk to someone you trust or get help from

Book onto a Kooth Student Webinar – Tips for managing exam stress and how Kooth can support you

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Page updated on April 12th, 2024 at 04:20pm