For many Year 12 students, their first experience of significant external examinations is just around the corner. So how can you be prepared and calm throughout this journey? Here are a few of my tips, gained from investigation, discussion and personal experience.

Leading up to the exams:

  • Be planned, organised and disciplined with your study. Use your strengths of how you learn best in revising the year’s work and remember to refer to previous exam papers and examiner reflections.
  • Ensure your dedicated study space is set up to optimise your time and focus.
  • Eat well and exercise.This helps maintain health, alertness and overall wellbeing.
  • Your brain will work best when it’s well rested, so it is vital to continue getting those 8 – 10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Engage in activities that enable you to have a sense of relaxation, calmness and serenity. This will vary for each person. Reading, walking, cooking, gardening, spending time with family or friends are some examples.
  • Continue to maintain a consistency, normality and balance in your daily life.

On the exam day:

  • Set the alarm to wake a little earlier so that you have plenty of time to eat breakfast (yes, do eat breakfast) and organise yourself.
  • Double check you have everything required for the examination and that it is in working order.
  • Head to the exam with plenty of time.
  • Take some brain food (fruit and nuts) and a bottle of water to the exam.
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts.
  • Read all the questions carefully before starting to help you plan your answer order.
  • Unless there is a set sequence to which you must adhere, start answering the questions that you feel most confident about.
  • Keep to the planned time on a particular section/question so you can have an opportunity to answer all questions in the exam. And, leave any questions that you are unsure about for the end.
  • Try to leave time to review your answers.

And some advice you can gently give to your parents, is that it is important to provide as much support for the above to occur in a calm, encouraging and caring manner. Their words and actions will make a difference to your mindset and preparation for the examinations. This is one time in your life where reducing or minimising other commitments may be valuable.

Finally, remember that the results of the examination may have an influence on your short term goals and aspirations, but they do not define who you are, the dreams you have or the opportunities you can take into the future.

Click here to listen to my interview with Mel Dee on PowerFM discussing coping with exams.