The things that can go wrong before an exam are easy to prepare for — not enough revision, a bad night’s sleep or just generally feeling the pressure. But what about during your exam? When all of your work comes down to a single paper, the last thing you want is for anything to go wrong. Here’s three common things that can go wrong in an exam and how to overcome them…
1. The classic mind blank
We’ve all been there. You know that you should know something, or you actually remember some of the knowledge, but you just cannot link all of your thoughts together into a coherent answer.
How do you overcome this? Firstly, have a routine leading up to your exam. Make sure you work during the mornings and afternoons when your exams are timetabled for. Your mind may be blank because it thinks it should be asleep at this time of day!
Secondly, snacks are important. A bit of sugar (preferably chocolate) can do no harm. You’ll feel those cogs in your brain turning once again, and bam you’re back in the room.
Lastly, put pen to paper. Plan your questions, and do a brain storm before you start writing your final answer. When you’re having a mind blank, you may struggle to link your ideas together. Writing things down will help you to rationalise your thoughts. Just remember to cross through anything you do not want the examiner to mark before you hand your paper in.
2. You’re running out of time
Remember, everyone on your module is sitting the same exam. If you’re running out of time, other people probably are too. So first of all, don’t panic! Be realistic with how much you can complete in the remaining time. Unfortunately, you might have to leave some questions blank or half answered. Whilst this isn’t ideal, you can only do what you can, and you should be proud of that. Don’t panic, be realistic and don’t beat yourself up afterwards!
3. You have too much time
Everyone else is still writing, and you’ve just closed your paper thinking it’s the end of the exam. This is actually a pretty good dilemma to be honest! It’s true in general life, and especially true for exams: do not compare yourself to other people. Everyone works at different paces, and it could just be that you were speeding ahead because you had prepared so well. However, make sure you make use of every leftover minute. Use your spare time to check through the paper and maybe add a few additional pieces to your answers.
In all of this, the most important thing is just to be kind to yourself! We all have good exams, and we all have bad exams. And remember that your bad exam may only seem bad, because the rest of your exams have gone so well. Stay calm, be realistic and, most importantly, remember that the end is in sight!