Getting The Most Out Of Your Exams

When exams come around it’s time to put that revision into practice… but how can you make the most of exams and get to grips with what comes next?


Getting ready for exams

Organise what you need in advice

Make sure you know where to go and when, and what to bring with you. Get sorted and pack your bag the day before the exam (or even the week before). It will help the day go much more smoothly if you haven’t forgotten important things and you’re not stressed about what exactly you should be doing.

Top up your energy levels

You want to be performing at your best during exams. So make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated, have soothing baths or showers, get some fresh air and exercise, and eat right. The little things can all add up to make a big difference to how good you feel and how well you can focus.

Get there early

You need time to soothe your exam nerves, meet friends, and know exactly what you’re meant to be doing and where you need to go. That means setting your alarm early and turning up a good half hour before the exams, so you can reduce any panic from being rushed. If you want to use that time to check your revision notes or do something completely different, that’s up to you.

The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will feel.


Reducing exam nerves

If you are feeling blue before results day or experiencing more anxiety than feels comfortable, perhaps these stress relieving techniques can help.

Try this guided meditation for exam stress from Khan Academy. It can help you breathe out some of that stress before, during and after exams!

Walm drinks can be soothing. If you don’t want to get too hyped up on caffeine, try squash with hot water or non-caffeinated coffee and tea alternatives.

Aim for a balance – it’s fine to vent about exams, but don’t talk yourself into a hole. Use positive language like “I have tried” and “I will do my best”.

Remember that feeling exam nerves is natural. That anticipation will actually help you to focus and feel calm once you walk into the exam room, get settled in, and begin. The unknown is scary but once you can see what is on the exam paper, you can just get on with it and give it your best shot.

If you want to talk to someone, Kooth is an online counselling and emotional wellbeing platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop. Childline provides help for anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through, and you can phone them on 0800 1111.


What if you can’t take an exam?

You need to let your school know right away. In some cases, circumstances like illness (with a doctor’s note) or bereavement will mean that arrangements can be made. The exact nature of the arrangements depends on the examination board for the exam you are meant to be sitting.


What happens once exams are over?

Now it’s time to relax, celebrate and wait for Results Day! Whatever grades you get, you have lots of options after you get your results for your GCSEs or their equivalents. Click the link to see your post GCSE options which include A Levels, vocational qualifications, traineeships, apprenticeships and more.

Whatever grades you get, phone the Exam Results Helpline. They can help anyone who has just got their exam results get a clear picture of their options and next steps. They have helped many callers who only passed a couple of GCSEs and they can help you too.


Didn’t get the grades you wanted?

Sometimes change isn’t what we want but it can happen to any of us, and there is always another route to achieve what you want in life. You might not have the grades you needed to do the courses you expected to as your next step in school or college, but there is no need to suffer alone and in silence. Talk to the head of the school or college you applied to. They may be able to relax requirements, or give you options, or help you think about next steps like retaking any exams you might need.
If one of your results is VERY unexpected, and you really think an error might have been made, you can talk to your school about getting your exam marked again. This is known as a remark.

If you’re thinking about resits or remarked papers, always speak to a teacher or school careers advisor first. They can help you get things in perspective and sort out an action plan. Don’t worry – there is help at hand and you are not alone.


Activity: Plan how YOU will handle exams

Write down three things you will do to help you feel more confident when exam time comes around. You can use what you have read here, or write down activities you think will personally help you feel calm and in charge.

For each thing you write down, say why you think it will help you do your best in exams.

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