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10 Steps For Exam Prep Success

Will I finish on time? Will I recall that table method? Will I remember all my memory aids?  So many things run through your mind prior an exam. You don’t need to be stressing about forgetting your essential stationery or worrying about a toilet break.  Here is a list of things to remember before, and of the day, of your exam:

Revise your theory/methods

The day before the exam, revision is key. These are your easy marks and gives you confidence to do the challenging questions. Developing your long term memory is key to allowing accurate recall processing. Use memory aids, pictures, flow charts and even little stories to help you revise effectively. You’ll thank yourself when you are able to rely on this while working through a tough question in that paper. 

Rest your mind

My tutor once told me that he made sure to sleep for 8 to 10 hours before each exam. I was stunned. After trying it myself, it has become my personal tradition. Rest allows your brain to process what you’ve learnt, while leaving your mind and body feeling rejuvenated the next morning. 

Do something fun

Whether it be taking a walk to your nearby store for snacks, playing your favourite video game or chatting to family and friends – do something to make you laugh. Laughing lowers your stress levels, which are already at their peak during the exam period. An added bonus is that your chill session will remind you of the treats in store for yourself, post-exam!

Know when enough is enough

Cramming can only get you so far. My wise lecturer once said, “the day before [an exam], hard work on things not previously known will have you forgetting facts you once thought were common knowledge.” I feel like we have all heard this at some point. Realistically, your brain cannot have ultimate memory recall on sections stored in your short term memory. You know your own limits – make sure you set them and, more importantly, stick to them. 

Eat and drink what you trust

Staying up all night with food poisoning is no fun, so watch what you eat and drink. Don’t eat that 3-day-old lasagna or chug the last bit of milk from a week ago. I’m not going to encourage you to have brain foods or super foods that are listed in fancy articles. Rather, cook some hearty home foods or enjoy your freshly made take-out –  all while being wise about your choices. 

Set your alarm clock

Ensuring that you wake up and leave on time to the exam venue is the ultimate rule for the day of the exam! Set two alarms, or tell a family member or friend to wake you. If you don’t arrive to your exam, what is the point of preparing for it?!

Take your form of identification 

Whether it be your ID, drivers license or student card, you need to be identifiable. The perk of remembering, is that you can be 100% focused on your task at hand and not have insiginifcant things plague your mind. It also saves you the stress of having to think about the ‘pink slip’ process afterwards. 

Your pencil bag essentials 

Whatever is specific to your method of working, bring it along. I love to use highlighters to colour code important elements in my exam. Do what makes you comfortable and confident. Whether it be pens, highlighters, a calculator or sticky notes – you do you boo! 

Don’t drink too many liquids

Rushing out for a quick toilet break steals from your precious time in the exam, which could be used to find a mistake or write down the thought that magically appeared in your head. So, do not drink too many liquids the day of your exam. That being said, stay hydrated –  just don’t over do it. 

Do what works for you

If you know you like to listen to music – go for it. If you know you prefer to chat to people – go for it. If you prefer to recite your information – go for it. We are all different from one another and thrive in various situations. Don’t be afriad to do what works best for you. If your friends love to chat but you don’t, step out and take a moment to breathe. Testing out different ways of calming yourself, and maintaining that positive attitude before you go into the exam, is a life skill. So, take your time figuring it out.

Exams are a stressful time of year for everyone. It is a time to learn new breathing techniques, explore your time management and to learn about yourself. Experiment with different ways of handling yourself in order to find out what works best for you. Hopefully these tips guide you in uncovering your ‘Go to Exam Prep list’.

Jess is an aspiring Chartered Accountant studying her final year at UCT. She is passionate about about education and aims to promote a holistic and healthy lifestyle. Her interests include circuit exercise training, makeup, feminism, tutoring and educating/empowering womxn. Read her blog for more: https://justjessjournals.blogspot.com
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