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What to do the night before an exam: guest blog from Carys

I’ve sat my fair share of exams over the years (practically a professional at it now!) and I still get nervous the night before. I’ve tried out lots of exam checklists and finally, I’ve got one that keeps me super organised–and sane– through this hard time. 

So here is my foolproof (mostly relaxing) night before exams checklist!

☑️ Eat something.  

I get lost in hours of revision and sometimes, I forget about basic things like food and water. From experience, the night before an exam is always stressful and having food in my stomach makes things better. Even cooking can help by taking my mind off the exam hall. Plus, revising can be even worse than normal, if you’re hangry! I snack through the evening if I can’t face a big meal. But the main thing is giving your brain fuel so that you’ve got energy for the big day.

☑️ Chill out.


I find soaking in a bath really relaxing. Throw in your favourite bath bomb, light a few candles and let yourself have a rest before your exam. Maybe for you, relaxing is about watching your favourite show, or listening to good music. Whatever helps you chill out– give yourself a break.

☑️ Have a quick look at your notes.

While some of my friends don’t like revising the night before (because of exam jitters), I get too stressed if I don’t do a bit of revision. I keep my night before revision low-key. I’ll use flashcards, Quizlet, short exam questions and mind maps. In the morning, I’ll look over my ‘Cheat Sheets’. This is where I cram everything I struggle to remember for a topic onto one page.

 ☑️ Get organised.

With the big adrenaline rush exams give me, I can get very, very, very forgetful. So I make sure I’ve got a little checklist with everything I need for the next day and get things out and ready the night before. 

Here is my mini checklist inside my big checklist:

  • Clothes. I get my clothes ready the night before, so I can just grab them in the morning. This means everything is good to go–even my socks, which always makes things run more smoothly. I also get my make-up essentials out and ready (concealer, eyebrow pencil, mascara, and lip balm).
  • Check and double-check my pencil case. If it’s a Science or Maths exam, I’ll check that my calculator is packed and has a working battery. I take at least four black pens, highlighters, two pencils and a rubber in my pencil case– plus, any other exam specific tools. I always pack my pencil case in my schoolbag the night before.
  • Lunch.  I make sure my lunch box is also packed and that I’ve got a water bottle in my bag, plus healthy snacks.

☑️ Switch off screens, get sleep!

I set myself an early bedtime (boring, I know…) and a cut off time when I’ll switch off my screens. You need your rest for the big day and that means giving yourself plenty of time to fall asleep. It’s a good idea to switch off your phone 1-2 hours before you go to bed. At the very least, turn off the blue lights in your phone settings.

…And that is my foolproof, stress-free night before exams checklist. It helps keep me relaxed because I know I’m prepared for the day ahead. This may not look exactly like your own exam checklist- and that’s okay. Your checklist has to work for you. You’ve already come so far, so give yourself a pat on the back. Here’s to smashing those exams!

 Carys Scales is an English tutor and studies English Literature and Creative Writing at Cardiff University.

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