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Last Minute Exam Preparation (Tips and Advice)

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Last Minute Exam Preparation (Tips and Advice)

All students, at some point in their life, will reach the detriment of their final exams. The exams that they have been preparing years for, almost here. 2-3 months from now, exam season will begin for GCSE and A-level students, and many are at the height of their stress. This is totally normal and is the same with every student on the spectrum of least prepared to most prepared. There are things you must know before going into your exam, as well as some last-minute revision tips.


Stay Calm and Collected

I know, easier said than done. However, easing your nerves could be the difference between a grade or two which is why I believe it’s something that requires crucial practice. For instance, I recall times where I would do papers under timed conditions at home and do well, but then not do as well in class mocks. This had me thinking, what was the difference? 


I was able to cluster 3 factor changes

Firstly, the most obvious change was the environment. I found changing my environment compromised my optimum grade. An environment change was something I wasn’t used to. I decided to solve this issue by switching environments where possible. It could be something small like moving your table to a different corner or rearranging things on your table to look different to what you’re used to. Sometimes I would go to the library pretending I was on the way to my real exam. Gradually, I started seeing improvement and when class mocks came about, I had acclimatised to the change and saw my grades reflect what I would normally achieve at home. 


The second altered factor was exam practice times. We would often do papers in the evening when at home, compared to in the morning or afternoon when at school or an exam centre. Yes, this does impact exam performance but there are ways of tackling it. I would try to do exam papers at times normal exams would be sat. For A-level students, there will be free periods where you don’t have lessons. Take advantage of that time. This is a bit harder for GCSE students, so I would recommend doing papers in the morning or afternoon on the weekends while practicing them in the evenings on weekdays.


Lastly, I realised an actual mock or official exam where I’m graded by a teacher or examiner would make concentrating more difficult. This was one of the hardest things to get used to. Mastering tips number one and two really helped me overcome this. The key is acclimatising to exam conditions so well that it becomes nothing more than another ordinary day.


A lot of students struggle with nerves, but I believe mastering these techniques will decrease those nerves as much as possible.


Cramming and Last-Minute Preparation done right

If you find yourself being short on time, you should think about optimising your grade. Reading up on the content for all your subjects from the beginning to the end with a time crunch isn’t the sensible way of doing things. 

·      Find your weaknesses and work on those

·      Fill in gaps in your knowledge

·      Do lots of questions to get you in the momentum before your exams

Mental health and its impact on exam performance


Something that often goes past many people is their mental well-being.

Overstretching yourself can have you burnt out before your exams, and constantly filling your brain with facts and figures without breaks can cause more harm than good. Taking periodic switches between study and break time could help. 


Some studies suggest, taking a nap during the day correlated with improved retention.

This is because when taking a nap during the day or when you sleep at night, your brain works more on organising information rather than other things, like moving your body or processing stimuli. 


Another thing that helps with your mental well-being is taking a walk outside or going to the gym.

Escape study for an hour or two during the day by going outside, as well as being with family or friends. It may not seem like much, but it goes a long way overtime.


To conclude, overpreparing could have the opposite impact to what you expect. You need a work-life balance where you’re not overstretching or burning out.



1) Acclimatise to your environment - make sitting exams second nature

2) Don’t revisit everything last minute – find your weaknesses and put most of your energy there

3) Take care of your mental health


Don’t count the days, make the days count!

Edited by Mirwais
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