10 Tips to Stay Calm on Exam Day I Oxford Open Learning

10 Tips to Stay Calm on Exam Day

If you are feeling nervous, it means you want to do well. And if you want to do well, your nerves might get in the way. That is why it is so important to stay as calm as possible on exam day. It is completely natural to feel a little nervous but for some, it can be consuming and can lead to panic during an exam.
Here are 10 tips to help you calm your nerves so that you can perform to the best of your ability.

Before the Exam

1. Look forwards, not backwards
Don’t think about all the things you don’t know. You will never know everything, and you will always feel like you could have revised more. More importantly, you can’t change the past but you can control what happens now and going forward.

Instead, focus on all of the things you do know. You will be surprised at just how much you feel confident on! And use this confidence and knowledge in your exam.

2. Look after yourself
Get enough sleep, eat well and get some exercise. All of these things will make you feel good and in turn, will help you stay focused.

3. Be prepared
Use revision techniques that are efficient and effective.

Reading through pages and pages of text might not be the best use of your time. Instead, think of how you can represent the information more visually.

4. Practice really does make perfect
Knowing your stuff is only half of what you should be doing to prepare for exams. Your exam technique is also important. Practice as many past papers as you can before your exam. This will improve your knowledge and boost your confidence.

5. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness encompasses relaxation and positive thinking, both of which will be key to keeping you calm before and during an exam.


During the Exam

1. Learn to calm yourself down

When in the exam, there are a number of things you can do to stay calm.

If you are feeling nervous, close your eyes and breath deeply. This will physically calm you down. Remember the power of positive thinking – tell yourself that you can do this.

2. Be strategic

Keep an eye on the clock and prioritise your approach. Maybe start with some easy questions to get warmed up. Or perhaps you could start with the harder ones or questions that are worth the most marks.
As time ticks on you may need to shift your priorities. If you are short on time, stick to the questions you are confident with so you can collect the most marks.

3. Stay positive
Instead of panicking because you can’t answer every single question fully, focus on using the knowledge you do have. You might not get full marks, but you will at least get some.

You can only do your best. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do more than that.

4. Annotate your question paper
If you are struggling to say, understand a question, then make some notes. Underline key words, write down ideas etc. This will get your thoughts flowing before you actually put pen to paper for your answer.

5. Stay focused
Don’t worry about what is happening around you, what others might be doing, or any other thoughts that might creep into your mind. Stay focused on yourself and on your exam.


Staying calm is the best thing you can do to boost your chances of exam success. Just ask yourself – what is the worst that can happen? It is only an exam.

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Sumantha is an education and training specialist with over ten years' experience in developing and delivering adult and secondary level education. Her professional journey includes a six-year stint as a secondary school teacher. She is currently a freelance content writer and learning and development consultant. Sumantha also has a portfolio of private students who she teaches up to GCSE level.

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