In the best-case-scenario, you’ve finished revising but now you don’t know what to do with your time. In the emergency scenario, your dog may as well have eaten all your materials, because that just about sums up how much you’ve revised yet. I talked to some friends and here are the best night-before-an-exam-tips we could come up with.
“I’d rather have a clear head at the exam than dizzy half knowledge.”
I think these truly inspirational words of wisdom my friend shared with me perfectly sum up the general idea here. Regardless of whether you find yourself closer to the best-case or the emergency scenario, you’d ideally want to a) be awake and b) be able to think clearly at your exam.
How can we ensure that?
Best-case scenario: Relax and Recharge
For me, the night before an exam is all about relaxation and keeping calm. I’ll aim to “finish” all my studying early, so I only have to do some light revision the day before the exam. Obviously, I’m not saying “stop studying or you’ll fail” – because that really just makes no sense – but I’d definitely encourage you to schedule yourself some free time the evening before an exam. That way you can choose to relax and recharge guilt free, but of course, nothing stops you to keep revising if you feel like it. To me, knowing I have that choice between relaxing and revising completely changes the game in terms of managing exam stress.
- Are you in any group chats that blow up with hysterically confused messages? It might be time to disconnect from that. (Unless of course you find discussions in group chats helpful!)
- Take a nice hot shower and have some tea to help you relax before bed. I also try to avoid watching too much (if any) Netflix or YouTube the night before – the last thing you want is an annoying theme song stuck in your head while trying to write four essays in two hours (looking at you, Buffy).
- Prepare for the next morning: Pack your bag, double check your exam location, plan when to leave, set your alarm (obviously)… Basically: get everything ready so the next morning all you have to do is wake up, have some breakfast and go.
Emergency scenario: Strategize and Sleep
To be honest, I don’t have too much experience with this, as stress-avoidance is the name of the game for me. “Pulling an all-nighter and cramming like mad” just sort of falls right into that too-stressful-category; but I understand this is unavoidable sometimes.
So here’s what some of my friends have suggested:
- Try to come up with a condensed study plan. What does your exam look like – MCQ or essay questions? Are there past papers or mock exams you can refer to? Tailor your preparation to this, but also:
- Get a good overview of all the topics you need to be familiar with. The one positive about last minute studying is that anyone who’ll write up a summary of all the key content has probably written theirs at this point, so try getting a hold of one.
- Avoid (too much) caffeine / energy drinks; instead focus on staying calm and collected while you study.
- Split up your revision between the evening before and morning of the exam, but make sure you get a decent amount of sleep. Clear head > dizzy half-knowledge.
I hope that was marginally helpful, but obviously studying strategies and opinions always diverge.
Best of luck on your exams!