What to Do the Day Before an Exam

A Guide to Increase your Chances of Success

Finally, it's the day before your big exam. The hard work is done and now is the perfect time to make sure that you are ready to enter that exam hall... With the clock ticking down and the final countdown looming, what should you be doing? Well, everything you do the night before and the morning of your test should help you create a sense of relaxation and self-confidence. Here are some tips that will help you to do this!

Say ‘No’ to Anything New

Don’t use this day (or night) as an intense study session. Learning just before going to sleep helps you remember more information, but planning a long cram session isn’t going to be effective. Give your brain a chance to rest. Almost all tests nowadays are designed to assess knowledge that students accumulate over months of study, so frantically reviewing your notes the day before the exam will not help you at all. You can re-read whatever you think is most important, but don’t try to digest new material. Chances are you’ve already learnt everything you’re going to and new information at this stage might just lead to confusion.

Prepare Everything

There is an adage that states, ‘well begun is half done’. So, do make a list and check it twice. Think about what you will need in the morning. For example, you should probably take your identification document (e.g. your passport or ID card), pens, pencils, erasers and a watch. Be sure to double-check which items you are allowed to take into the exam with you. Pack everything into your backpack the night before so you can avoid searching for things at the last minute. Also, don’t forget to take a bottle of water with you. It will keep you hydrated and energised throughout the day.

What about your outfit? Say ‘yes’ to layers; the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable if the exam hall is too warm or too cold. Go for comfort, not style. You don’t want to be sweating or shivering! To minimise distractions, avoid clothes and jewellery made from noisy materials.

Be Ready to Go

Make sure to look up directions to the exam centre and find the route that will work best for you. Knowing how to get there and feeling prepared for everything will ease your tension considerably. Consider traffic, too. When it comes to exams, it’s better to be extremely early than late! If you’re leaving at a particularly busy time of day, give yourself extra time to get to the test location.


A relaxing bath and a whiff of essential oils like lavender can help you calm down. Music can help beat stress, too; while music preferences vary, classical music has been shown to reduce anxiety. Also, a walk and a light dinner with a friend can be a great way to clear your mind.

Don’t Pull an All-nighter

Get enough sleep. Our brains are at their best when they are rested. If you sit an exam while you’re exhausted, you will have a much harder time recalling the information you need to earn a high score. Besides, a sleepy student is always a more anxious student!

Set Multiple Alarms

Set your alarm so you don’t oversleep on the morning of your test. If you usually struggle waking up and tend to push the snooze button too many times, set as many alarms as possible. It might also be wise to have a family member or friend call you to make sure you are awake.

Eat a Healthy, Filling Breakfast

Even if you’re feeling sick with nerves, don’t skip breakfast. A satisfying breakfast can give you ample energy, especially if the exam is going to last a while. Like it or not, what you eat will have an effect on your physical and mental performance, so eat something healthy and nutritious. Your brain functions better when you’re not hungry!

Do What Works for You

Try your best to enter the exam hall calmly. It may help to take a few deep breaths and visualise yourself grounded and centred. But remember that everyone is different, so do whatever puts you in the best frame of mind. Good luck!

If you liked this article, you may also want to find out how to balance work and studying English.

What are your favourite tips from this article? Have you got any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below; we’d love to know what you think!

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