There are many things you can do before an exam to help you prepare well for your exams. 

The more you do to prepare for an exam beforehand, the better you will feel during the exam. Follow our tips in this section and let us know if you have more study tips to share.

Notes

  • Keep your notes tidy and complete. If you miss a class, get the notes from a friend or ask your teacher what you missed.
  • Organise your notes into different sections, e.g. vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, reading, listening, writing. This will make it easier to find the section you need to revise for the exam.
  • Look through your notes regularly, not just the day before the exam.
  • Use different coloured pens and highlighter pens to help you focus on the most important things you have to learn.
  • Make summaries of your notes. Include the most important things in your summaries. Write short summaries on small cards that you can carry around with you and read them on the bus or when you have some free time.
  • Make mind maps, visuals and diagrams.
  • If you don’t understand something in your notes, ask a classmate or your teacher to explain it to you.

Time

Many students have lots of exams close together. It is useful to plan how much time you have to revise and make a revision timetable.

What’s a revision timetable?

Work out how much time you have to study each subject and complete a table or grid with the subjects you are going to study and when you are going to study them. Try to stick to your revision timetable to make sure you have enough time to do everything.

Don’t leave your revision until the last minute. Try to revise for each exam more than once to help you learn things well. Our long term memories remember more if we look at things more than once so look at your notes regularly.

Remember to take regular breaks while you study. Take a 15-minute break after every hour you study. This will help you concentrate during your study time.

Phones and other distractions

If you and your friends send each other messages every five minutes, you will find it very difficult to concentrate on what you are learning. So, switch off your phone and your favourite social network sites while you are studying! You can send messages to your friends during your breaks.

Music

Some people like listening to music when they study and it can help them concentrate. But if music distracts you, turn it off while you study or listen to music without words. Listen to your favourite music during your breaks. Try studying with music on and without music, to see how you study better. You might find that a certain type of music helps your concentration. 

Brain food

It’s really important to eat properly while studying for exams. A healthy diet will give you lots of energy. Sugary snacks like sweets and chocolate may give you short-term energy, but it is better to eat foods that give you lots of energy over a longer period of time. Check out our list of brain foods and try to make sure your diet includes lots of these things during exam times.

Super brain foods:

  • brown bread
  • cereals
  • pasta
  • rice
  • beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • oily fish such as sardines, tuna or salmon
  • shellfish
  • red meat
  • chicken
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • fresh fruit
  • vegetables
  • salads

Eat regular, healthy snacks while you’re studying as well as three good meals a day to keep your energy levels high.

Exercise

Do plenty of physical exercise while you are studying for exams. Exercise helps oxygen move around your body and your brain needs lots of oxygen to work well. Go outside for a walk and get some fresh air, go for a swim or meet your friends for a game of football.

Look after your eyes

Spend your study time in a quiet room with plenty of light. If you study better in the evenings, make sure you have a good lamp so that your eyes don’t get tired. Do exercises for your eyes. Look at something near you and blink (open and close) your eyes several times and then look at something far away. Repeat this several times.

Revise with a friend

Talking through what you have learned with a friend can help you remember things. You can also test each other and explain things to each other when one of you doesn’t understand. It can be more fun revising with a friend.

Early bird or night owl?

It’s good to know when you learn better. Some people study better in the morning (early birds) and others in the afternoon or evening (night owls). Plan your study time when you feel at your best and feel wide awake!

Sleep

The best food for the brain is sleep, so you’ll need a lot of sleep during exam times. When you’re tired you will find it difficult to concentrate and learn.

So, how much sleep do you need? Well, when you’ve had the right amount of sleep you don’t feel tired, not too much and not too little. Most teenagers need between 8 and 9 hours sleep a night.

Try and get good quality sleep. So, don’t sleep with your books all over your bed or with lights, music or the computer on. For the best sleep, make sure your room is quiet, comfortable and dark.

If you stay up late studying and don’t get enough sleep, you may need a ‘power nap’ in the afternoon. A short sleep of 30 minutes may give you some energy before you start revising, but keep it short – you don’t want to spend all afternoon in bed!

Tips to help you sleep

  • Have a regular bed time. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, if possible 8 or 9 hours before you have to wake up.
  • Do plenty of exercise. Don’t do exercise just before bedtime, but regular exercise earlier in the day can help your body sleep at night.
  • Don’t drink caffeine (colas, tea or coffee) in the afternoons and evenings. Drink water, fruit juices or herbal teas.
  • Have a milky drink just before bedtime.
  • Relax before you go to bed. When you have finished studying, read a book, listen to music, watch TV or have a bath to help you relax.
  • Turn off lights, your computer, mobile and any other electrical devices in your room.
  • When you wake up, open the curtains to get lots of natural light in your room. This will help you feel more awake in the morning.

Discussion

Tell us what you usually do before an exam.  Do you get nervous?  What do you do to stop feeling nervous?

Comments

paradise_2006's picture
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paradise_2006 4 September, 2020 - 21:25

I sometimes feel anxious before exams but that's only when I'm not perfectly sure about the subject i studied. people normally say to listen to music to calm yourself down but whenever i listen to music before a exam, songs and lyrics go all around my head distracting me....so I normally drink some water, take a deep breath to relax my mind and wait till the test paper is given out. :P

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Butterberries's picture
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Butterberries 17 August, 2019 - 06:43

I always feeling nervous before my exam.But,if I have do enough preperation I know that I will be fine. :)

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Assooma's picture
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Assooma 23 March, 2017 - 18:38

I some times feel nervous befor difficult exams so i try to do things that let me feel relaxation like watch a movie or eat some thing I really love and sleep for more than 6 hours continuously so i didn't feel nervous any more

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naslev_89's picture
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naslev_89 19 February, 2016 - 13:37

I try to hang out with my friends before exams. It make me relax. I am good pupil so I know i will take a good vote, but i still worry anyway

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dzeni's picture
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dzeni 24 March, 2014 - 17:24

I often get nervous. Then I talk with my friends about exam and it makes me to feel better because conversation always helps. Keep calm and relax!

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saba's picture
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saba 20 September, 2013 - 20:57

i try to think of ways to cheat but i'm usualy a strait arrow and i try not to cheat but sometimes when i don't study i cheat!!!!!!!!! so i'm never nervous in iran everyone cheats no big deal : )

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Tena1996's picture
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Tena1996 4 July, 2013 - 14:52

To make myself feel better I study hard and prepare myself in advance because if you study everything in detail you will not have to worry about anything as you know everything .Thus,I prepare well =)

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then's picture
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then 16 February, 2013 - 12:27

Yes, sometimes i do get nervous. In order to avoid being nervous, we can "listen to music" or "chat with friends" about some latest movies, or about something "interesting" other than studies which makes us feel good.

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