Preparing for an Exam- Do’s and Don’ts


by Katherine Reilly

Most of you have probably seen this picture pop up on the web from time to time – a picture which is highly exaggerated and out of proportion, by the way. Regardless, how many of us have felt like this during a test?

In this article, we won’t debate the effectiveness of tests or question what the best way to assess a student’s skills or knowledge is. Tests are here to stay and whether we like it or not, we have to comply with this designated method of evaluation. Nonetheless, what is the best way to prepare for one?

  1. Never study on the day of the exam. Many test takers believe they could cram just a little more information in their heads right before it, without realizing that their stress levels increase and won’t be able to think clearly. This leads to an even worse performance than simply going in blind.
  2. Never wake up at the last minute. Your mind and body needs to be relaxed without adding to the existing stress you are being subjected to. By waking up earlier and taking your time to go to the exam center to get acquainted with your surroundings, contributes to a better performance.
  3. Don’t stay up too late the night before. A good night’s rest is essential for our mind to calm down and sort out all the information we have been absorbing the past few days before the exam. As with all machines, our minds need to be turned off or else risk the danger of burn out.
  4. Risk of Caffeine Overload. Drinking too much coffee increases adrenaline levels, only adding to stress and lack of focus. Water is the best solution to keeping us on our toes without the side effects of
  5. Don’t compare yourself with other classmates. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves with others and this often leads to low self-esteem and depression. There is always someone who is better or ‘thinks’ he is better than you. Moments before the exam, he might brag about how well he prepared himself or might recite whole paragraphs from the exam material, just to convince everyone that he’s done a good job. Always ignore such cases as we are all unique individuals with different perspectives and ways of handling our preparation.
  6. Organize your Study Schedule. If you set study goals based on a specific schedule, your stress levels will decrease and you will more efficiently absorb the exam material. Studies have shown that by dedicating yourself to frequent studying (e.g. on a daily basis) but for smaller study sessions (usually less than an hour), are more effective than cramming all the information in one long sitting.
  7. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. On the day of the exam, it would be advisable to wake up earlier as mentioned before, and ‘re-energize’ our brains. By doing so, stress levels reduce, our brain performs at peak level and our body can withstand long tests which would otherwise consume us half-way through.
  8. Drink Water. Staying hydrated is of course equally essential. Avoiding water so as not to be forced to go to the bathroom does not help. Try not to suppress your body’s natural needs and bring water with you.


If you follow these simple but useful tips, your chances of achieving your goal will definitely increase.

Remember, careful planning and keeping a level head is the key to success, whatever our goal may be.

Katherine Reilly

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