What to do the day (and night) before an exam

With exams coming thick and fast, knowing what to do the day before can help things run smoothly for your teen. It’s easy for them to over-worry, but some structure, confidence and organisation at home will help them put their best foot forward as each exam comes around.

It helps keep their stamina up too, so they can put their energy into what’s ahead of them instead of worrying about what’s already happened. Check out these top six tips for helping your teen prepare before each exam.

  1. Go over what they already know
  2. Find out when and where each exam is
  3. Have a healthy, hearty dinner
  4. Boost their confidence
  5. Encourage an early night
  6. Get stationary ready

1. Go over what they already know

If an exam is less than 24 hours ahead, it isn’t helpful for your child to try to learn new information. With the tension and pressure of the exam starting so soon, their brain won’t be in an information-absorbing mode, but more gearing up to be ready-to-perform.

Instead, it’s useful for them to look over what they’ve already learned, reading over notes they’ve already made. Skimming back over past papers so they’re familiar with question styles, marking schemes and the best techniques for the paper will refresh their memory without straining their brain.

2. Find out when and where each exam is

To avoid any last-minute panic, it’s important to double check all the practical information. Here’s a checklist with everything you and your teen should know in advance:

  • Where is the exam?
  • What time does it start?
  • Which paper is it?
  • What stationary or equipment (i.e. calculator, ruler, text) do they need?
  • How are they travelling to the exam?

With all of this info sussed the night before, you’ll stay organised and help keep your child as calm as possible.

3. Have a healthy, hearty dinner

If your child’s feeling the weight of worry (who can blame them!), the power of a home-cooked meal can work wonders to give comfort and strength. If you’re feeling extra generous, making one of their favourite dishes can make them feel extra supported and relaxed.

4. Boost their confidence

Whether it’s their first time sitting national exams, or the pressure’s on to meet a conditional university offer, it’s really normal for them to feel self-doubt after an exam. While you can’t stop them feeling worried altogether (unless you have a magic wand), reminding them what they’ve already achieved can help keep some anxiety at bay. Maybe there’s a mock they did well on, a good report from a teacher, or an improved grade they got in a past paper, positive affirmation from you can help them to think more positively.

A more confident mindset = a focused brain. This added concentration and memory boost will be a big help in the exam.

5. Encourage an early night

They might have the impulse to stay up all night cramming, but this can actually have a negative impact on their exam performance. Encourage them to have an early night to get at least 8 hours sleep. With some proper shut-eye, they’ll wake up feeling well-rested and on fighting form for the challenge ahead.

6. Get stationary ready

If they’ve been reading over their notes all day, a nice (and important) break for your teen can be to get their stationary ready and packed for the morning. Exams normally need answers to be written in black ink, and they should take a couple of spare pens with them too.

If they’re sitting a Maths exam, they should double check whether it’s a calculator or non-calculator one, and if they’ll need a ruler or anything else. Exams have a strict no phone rule too, so make sure they know this and put theirs safely in their bag or locker before they go into the room. With everything ready the night before, your teen can wake-up, eat breakfast and go straight to their exam with a cool head.

Good luck to everyone! The extra support from you at this time – no matter how well or badly your child thinks they’re doing – will mean a lot to them.

When they look back and wonder how they ever coped, they’ll remember all your love, support and home-made lasagne.

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