Yay! You’ve nearly done it! You’ve been revising for weeks (probably feels like years) but your exam is upon you – tomorrow in fact. But your work is not over yet.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to go through seven absolutely critical things you should do the night before an exam to ensure confidence and success on the big day!
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Yes, you read that right: cram. You know you want to so don’t avoid it because you think it sounds bad. Believe it or not, cramming is important, but you have to do it differently to how you might typically imagine a ‘cramming session’.
Smart cramming doesn’t entail leaving a whole topic/module until the night before and trying to absorb the information by osmosis well into the early hours. Cramming just means you recognise you have just hours left to remember this information and you use that time wisely to allow you to retain what you need to know.
You can cram lots of different ways; for example, read through all your notes once more, talk yourself through the course topic by topic, review with a friend to make sure neither of you have left something vital out or get someone to test you.
2. One last check of the syllabus
This is where your prior organisation takes centre stage. If you have been using the course syllabus throughout, this provides a convenient checklist to make sure you know what you need to achieve success.
However, this can also provide you with a final chance to make sure you don’t slip up.
More times than I would like to admit, I have double-checked the syllabus and read something completely alien to me. If this happens, it’s important not to panic – how you overlooked it doesn’t matter anymore and isn’t worth fretting over.
Just prioritise what you have missed in your cramming time and do what you can. I promise it will pay off.
3. Don’t revise anymore
Once your brain feels so full its about to burst, please do stop revising. Put that pen down, close that book and step away from the laptop.
You are nearly there, and it’s important to let that knowledge cement itself in your brain by not thinking about it anymore.
Reward yourself – the end is near so run a bubble bath, eat some ice cream or binge watch some Netflix. You really do deserve it and I always advocate that having some ‘me time’ before an exam leaves you better off than those who don’t take a moment to breath the day before a paper.
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Following on from the above, have a normal evening. Don’t spend your time constantly thinking about what is happening tomorrow.
Eat dinner at your normal time and definitely not at your desk, have a shower, get into your pyjamas, watch your favourite TV programmes or just talk to your family.
Other than the introduction of revision into your daily routine, exam season should never take the normality out of your life and the day before an exam is no different.
Once you have crammed, and consciously stopped revising for the day, allow yourself a moment to breath and just act like it’s a normal evening in your life.
5. Fuel yourself properly
This is the oldest piece of advice in the book but it’s true and it makes you feel better. You need to fuel yourself because adrenaline only takes you so far.
Therefore, the night before, it’s really important to have a healthy, nutritious meal which is going to fill you up and fuel your brain.
Of course, there are lots of brain food studies to help you choose what to eat, including the fact that certain fruit, vegetables and, in particular, oily fish help you remember facts.
A more forward-thinking piece of advice for the night before is to plan what breakfast is going to be in the morning, especially if you aren’t used to eating breakfast. Even if these are the few days a year that you eat something before 9am, make it count. You don’t want to be amongst the people who can’t concentrate in their exam because their stomach is talking to them.
Finally, plenty of water before and during your exam will keep you focused and wake you up if your exam is an early one.
6. Final preparation
This part is all up to you and it needs to be amended to fit how you normally work. The moments just before you settle to sleep, set aside a small amount of time to look over your flashcards or have one final read of key words and concepts.
This isn’t another panic revision session, but going to sleep having done this should allow your body to feel physically and mentally prepared for the next day, allowing you to remain calm enough so that you won’t be too anxious to sleep.
7. Sleep and sleep early
This is the most important one. This is the one revision day that you should not work into the night, even if that is when you work best. You won’t be able to stay awake or focus in an exam if your eyes are heavy and your mind is drifting from exhaustion.
Get to bed at a sensible time, allowing yourself time to relax, however you choose to do it, and get comfortable before you fall asleep. You need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead and not exhausted and panicked because of the sleep deprivation.
Some secondary things to remember when it comes to bed time:
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening;
Have a hot bath or shower just before bed, as there have been reports to suggest that the feeling of your body temperature cooling down makes individuals feel sleepy;
Put down your phone some time before you turn your light off to sleep, as that dreaded blue-tinted light shining out of Facebook and Instagram is one of the main culprits for keeping you awake;
Crucially, set your alarm, or ten alarms – whatever it takes to wake you up, do what you need to do to ensure you wake up with plenty of time to get yourself to that exam hall.
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