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Before, During, & After Your Exam

Preparing - before, during and after

Before Your Exam

Sleep - Get a good night's sleep! Pulling an all-nighter is not a good idea, you need to re-charge your body and mind so you can feel your best at the exam.

Pack - Get together all your supplies the night before.  Putting together an ‘Exam Ziplock Baggie of Fun!’ helps to keep your pens, pencils, erasers, calculator (if needed), Kleenex, ChapStick and student card all in one place so you don’t forget anything. 

Fuel Your Mind - Eat breakfast, but nothing too big (you don’t want to feel sick), or too sugary/caffeinated (you don’t want to hit a sugar or coffee low in the middle of the exam either).

Give Yourself Extra Time - Arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to the exam location.  This will give you time to calm down and find a good seat.

Set Study Boundaries - Don’t bring your study notes with you to the exam, this will only increase your stress level which is detrimental to your performance.

During Your Exam

Get Comfy - You’re going to be there for a while!  Make sure you have your pens, student card and other supplies out of your coat or bag and on your desk. 

Breathe - If you are feeling anxious or nervous take a few deep abdominal breaths to calm yourself down.  Visualize your success at the end of the exam as you hand in your paper (which you’ve aced)!

Recall - As soon as you start, recall any information you’re scared you might forget on the back of the exam paper.  This could be formulas, definitions, or things to jog your memory such as acronyms or key words.  This will help ease your anxiety as you will no longer have to worry about ‘going blank’ on this information.

Read Carefully - Read through all the instructions before you start the exam.  Make sure you’re not missing any pages in your exam booklet. 

Set Time-Based Goals - Make up a rough time budget and allot more time to questions that are worth more points. Be realistic about multiple choice – give yourself at least 1 minute per question to be safe.  Also, try to allot at least 10-15 minutes of buffer time to look through your paper at the end. Do the easiest questions first, to give yourself a confidence boost!

Do your Best - If you start to run out of time don’t panic.  Do your best to write down some information for each question, even if it’s just a formula or a couple of key points. 

After Your Exam

Relax - Even if you have to study for another exam, give yourself at least an hour to decompress and rest your brain.  You won’t expect your other muscles to run a marathon and then head to the gym for a work out right after, so don’t expect this kind of perform from your brain.

Review - your exams once they are marked. Analyze where you went right and where you made mistakes.  This is the study skill that is most often overlooked during the exam process. 

Reflect - Reflect on which study strategies you used to prepare for the exam and if they worked for you.  If they did, keep them up; if they didn’t, try something new next time!

Reward - Congratulate yourself on doing so well! The exam is over – celebrate that! Good job!!

Additional Resources

Preparing for Exams (pdf)Useful tips to help you prepare for your exams and make sure you have a successful, and less stressful, exam period.
Study Task Breakdown (doc)A worksheet to help you create a plan to study for your exams.
Exam PrepLearning Skills Workshop