Prepare - During Exam

Why bother with simulating exams?


Practising under realistic conditions means you get used to dealing with moments of difficulty, panic and stress during real exams.


Outcomes after using this page:


  • You know how to behave during a real exam




Before starting your exam, remind yourself that everyone has the same paper as you and they all have to face the same challenges as you.


Grades are based on your marks vs other students, not on how many marks you actually get vs 100%. If you cope with anxiety when an exam paper is particularly difficult, you can get a good result with low marks!


The most important thing is not to panic.


Before starting the exam


  1. Don’t open the paper

  2. Spend two minutes writing down any key facts you have memorised and may need - it’s easier to remember them when you don’t need them!

  3. Know how many minutes you have per mark

  4. Have a very quick read through all the questions - don’t try to answer any of them.  Your subconscious mind will start finding answers to questions while you are consciously working through from the beginning.


Dealing with Stress


Having some adrenaline in your body is a good thing as it makes you alert and active. However it may make you go too fast at the beginning of the paper and get things wrong, so you may need to deliberately slow down a bit for the first ten minutes. 


Having too much adrenaline will make you lose focus and this will happen if you start to panic. The only way to learn not to panic is to get used to dealing with the pressure of exams by doing lots of practice and simulation exams.


Dealing with tricky questions


There are a few things that can cause panic and knowing what to do in these situations will help you to make good decisions while under pressure:

  • You can’t answer the first question!

  • The paper seems really tricky

  • You start to run out of time


If a difficult question has low marks its best to leave it and come back later. I often got reminded of the answer by a different question later in the paper!


If a difficult question has a lot of marks, then the first few marks will be the easiest to get and it is probably worth writing something. However remember your ‘minutes per mark’ number and don’t waste time!


If you start to run out of time, remember that the first few marks in each question are the easiest to get. You will probably do better by getting all the easy marks in all the questions rather than high marks in one question, so spend less time on each question and get to the end.


Dealing with disruption


Hopefully your exams won't be disrupted by noise, bad behaviour, unhelpful invigilators!


If you expect everything to be perfect, then you will get annoyed and lose focus. It is highly unlikely you will be able to do anything about it, so the best thing for your results is to breath deeply, ignore the disruption, and focus on being in your little private bubble with the exam paper and your answers. 


Occasionally you could even ask your family to disrupt your exam simulations so you learn how to deal with it!