First tip is – don’t panic. Once the exams are upon you, then make sure you know the dates and times (timetable on fridge, on bedroom wall, in school bag, on phone, etc.) Once you have sat an exam, no matter how badly – or how well – you feel it’s gone, it is gone. Forget it and move on mentally, and physically, to some revision for the next exam, or move on to eat lunch if the your next exam is in an hour or two. And avoid any panicking friends if possible!
Be prepared, with several pens and pencils and any other necessary equipment. Make sure your phone is not even in the room – leave it in your locker, or at home. (Radical thought, I know!) Have a bottle of water, and make sure you have visited the loo and have eaten something. Otherwise your rumbling stomach will be all anyone is thinking about! If you have allergies/a cold make sure you have tested any medication beforehand to ensure it doesn’t make you either twitchy or sleepy, and have plenty of tissues. Tell the invigilator, who may be able to move you away from any open windows, or to the back corner of the room so you don’t feel you’re disturbing others. Don’t forget your glasses if you wear them.
On non-exam days, revise for the next exams, but give yourself an hour extra in bed first. It will feel like a reward and lighten your mood. Don’t let yourself dwell on anything. Revision by now should be going over your weak points, handwriting test answers, book closed, and going over them either alone or with other ‘study buddies.’
If you don’t have to wear school uniform, dress in comfortable layers. Exams that start early in the morning in a cool room can make you feel like you’re in a sauna several hours later.
Bad handwriting needs space so the examiner can read it – write on every second line. Everybody should leave a couple of lines or more between paragraphs and start each answer on a new page. This gets rid of the need to write vertically in the margin if you think of something that you want to put into your essay. Exams are marked on screen nowadays, and these inserts run the risk of not being read if they can’t be seen easily.
Plan your time carefully, answering questions you know first, and those you will find harder last. Leave at least ten minutes for looking over your answers.
Never leave an exam early. Ask if you need to use the bathroom, and then come back and stay for the whole of the exam. If you have finished very early, then you have done something wrong, and need to check your work again. If you have missed out answering one question, because you don’t know the answer, then go back and try it; even one or two marks are better than zero. There is usually something you can add, so use the time allotted to you.
Finally, try and ignore the other people in the room, whether they look confident and are writing away like crazy, or look as if they are about to burst into tears. Try and think a ‘little bubble’ around yourself as you focus on answering the questions.