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3 simple tips to get through exam day

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Exams are always a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be any better. Read on to learn how you can make your exams easier.

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and exams. With sufficient technology we can only hope the first two will one day be eliminated. The third will likely hang around like an oblivious dinner guest well after 11:30pm on a Tuesday night; this is especially bad considering dinner was yesterday. Fortunately, there are several ways to navigate this frightful situation without exaggerated yawning, frequent watch-checking or agitated comments about how early you have to get up.

These tips aren’t going to be, ‘get plenty of sleep’ or ‘study in advance,’ because we both know you haven’t done those. What you’ve done instead is google ‘exam tips’ at 5:00am the day of your exam, which is a bold move if nothing else. Nevertheless, these will serve you well in the cram-packed days to come.

1. Plot your route to the exam hall well in advance

This is a simple, yet easy to overlook element of the exam process. If you have to take a bus or two to the exam, take a look at the morning timetable carefully. How long do they take on average? When do they arrive? Any roadworks that might impede the usual route? You don’t want to get on a bus only to have a detour through Westeros. At least, not until after the exam. These things can be checked natively within Google Maps; simply make sure location services are on coupled with a stable internet connection.

The same applies if you’re taking an uber or driving. We’ve not yet learned to shed our corporeal forms and travel as light, so we’re confined to both the laws of physics and local governments. Just make sure to use the most up to date traffic information available.

Why do this at all rather than cramming some more? The answer is simple. Having a more exact notion of your commute lets you determine when you’ve got to wake up and perform another important ritual:

2. Eat a substantial breakfast

A cultural habit seems to be eating a modest breakfast, modest lunch and then enormous dinner. This doesn’t make sense. The energy gained from the large meal would have been more useful throughout the day. Use your exam days to instead turn the formula on its head, hip rhyme intended. Have a large breakfast full of protein, carbohydrates and any other words that make you feel as though you’re eating something healthy.

Combined with the first tip, this should be far more doable and will put you in good stead. If your schedule and stomach allows, it’s not a bad rule to adopt for general purpose either.

3. Don’t cram a day or three before the exam

Sounds counterintuitive, but there are good reasons for putting the books down well before your big day. Amy Reichelt from RMIT gave The Conversation a variety of reasons for why it’s bad practice.

  • According to the Levels of Processing psychological theory, trying to gain new information in the stress-filled environment of a time sensitive cram session is not conducive of effective learning and subsequent information recall.
  • Seemingly time-efficient cramming methods like re-reading notes are actually ineffective methods of learning to begin with.
  • It leads to poor sleep and doesn’t effectively leverage the environmental reinstatement effect. This term refers to the phenomenon of associating memories and learning with specific locations.

In all seriousness, it’s not always possible to study for exams perfectly; it’s perfectly understandable. Life can easily get in the way of proper study, so all you can do is your best. No matter your situation however, following these tips should be of help regardless of how you prepared in preceding weeks.