We ve all been there you ve prepared for months to take
the exam, only to feel like everything is forgotten when you enter the
testing room. This moment of not being able to recall revision sets in panic,
which risks knocking your performance. It`s possible to begin to worry and catastrophize,
thinking how this will affect your overall grade and a self-fulfilling prophecy
begins to set into motion. But one of the best ways to overcome this fear is to face
it head-on read some tips to help get over exam nerves
You have time.
Know how long your exam is
and apportion the questions appropriately. Working yourself into a worry will
only waste precious time, so if your mind goes blank, focus on questions you
know you can address and think you have answers for. It helps to prioritise
where your strengths are, maximising the likelihood of getting marks. If you
neglect these areas whilst you re panicking, it can reduce your grade overall,
so focus on what you remember, rather than worrying about what has been forgotten.
Often, memories come back during the exam, so stay calm and concentrate on
getting your other answers written down in the meantime.2.
Briefly write down the things you can
remember which are relevant to the question.
Obviously, don t take up
precious writing space if this is limited on the exam paper, but it helps to note things down to
jog your memory. For example, in a Biology exam, you may have many multiple
choice/short-answer questions followed by one or two long essay questions to
finish off. This can appear daunting at first, so it s best not to panic. A good
technique is to glance at the essay questions when you first open the paper,
jot down a couple of bullet points that you want to build upon, then continue
with the shorter-mark questions to warm up your memory. That way, you re
optimising your ability to score well on these earlier questions, and you can
always add to the bullet points if other questions trigger your memory to form an
Have a plan.
Talking of essays, examiners
are often looking for a good structure with key points backed up by evidence.
We ve all been told of the basic essay structure of Introduction, Middle and
End, but what do these really mean? The Introduction could establish the
background of the topic you re discussing, and why you re talking about it. For
example, you may write an essay about novel treatments for the malaria-causing Plasmodium
parasite. Why? Because malaria is a disease endemic in many regions, and the disease affects millions of people across the globe. The main body of the essay would discuss new treatments, giving
you opportunity to develop your examples (Point, Evidence, Explain ) to show
the examiner you ve really thought about and understood the topic. The End should summarise
(but not repeat) the key areas of the main Middle sections. In an exam, following
a good structure helps if you re struggling to remember certain aspects of your
revision, as this can prompt factual recall.4.
Glance through the whole paper first.
Don t take too long doing this but it s good to have an idea about the layout of
an exam paper. There are horror stories of students who don t check the back
page and miss out on vital marks because they assumed they had answered all of
the questions only to panic when they realise their error, often too late.
You want to be as comfortable and as confident as possible when you re sitting
an exam, and to give yourself the best chance at scoring well. Try to minimise
any opportunities for exam stress and briefly glance over the questions so you
don t miss anything.5.
Practice makes prepared.
We would all
love to score perfectly on exams, but unfortunately, this is not always the
case. No matter how prepared we are, nerves can get the better of us and may
affect our performance. The best way to counteract this is to mimic the exam
setting when preparing, and be strict with yourself. No mobile phones, no social media during
a practice session. If you re running through an exam past paper, follow
the timings exactly as the exam would be. Don t have distractions like the
radio in the background make sure you are comfortable and fully able to
focus. If you don t have the time to practice a full 2 hour exam, try setting
yourself small questions with the allocated time. For example, if it takes an
hour to sit a 60 mark exam, a 6 mark short answer question should take 10
minutes to practice. Preparing in short chunks of time can also really help you
focus and test your factual recall, and help prepare for smaller questions which can build up to big marks.6.
Following on from the last
point, if practicing past papers or setting your own mock questions, be
strict and firm if marking your own work. It`s best not to look at the mark scheme and
think that s what I meant to say I ll give myself that mark because I knew what I was talking about
- because Examiners
have to strictly follow the marking scheme and won`t be able to make allowances. You need to view your answers objectively and always think how to improve.7.
Building study maps.
At the start of a revision
session, write down everything you know about the topic before looking at your
notes/textbooks. This way, you can compare how much you ve learnt at the end of
the session, and know what to look out for if you missed key points when you
initially recalled them. Keep hold of the paper (it s a goo idea to write in a
notepad to keep everything together), and in the next session, add more notes
in a different colour pen. Over your revision sessions for one topic, you ll be
able to see a colourful map of your memory recall, reinforcing how much
you ve learnt and improved upon. This will help build your confidence for
entering the exam room.I hope this article has helped give you some hints and
motivation for studying, and I wish you the best of luck in your exams,
whatever your subject!