Look after yourself
As much as possible, try to be well rested and well nourished in preparation for the exams. Drink plenty of fluids, eat a good healthy breakfast. The fresher and more energetic you feel, the more it will support your ability to tackle the cognitive challenges ahead.
Be on top of practical details
In the depths of preparation, it is easy to forget practical details. Be clear about the simple things like start time, venue, equipment, material you can/cannot bring and so on. Know exact duration and requirements well in advance and keep a note of them. Being on top of all these details can make a huge difference in your poise and performance and will help avoid unnecessary last minute jitters.
Even if you are feeling desperately underprepared, you can still do a lot with the short time you have left. ‘Night before notes’ can be an active way of capturing condensing and summarising your exam material. Sketching out short signposts of some of the most important aspects of the course is a great way of gaining last minute command over some of the trickier aspects of your studies.
Read all instructions and choose your questions carefully
Slow down at the beginning of the exam. Make sure you have absorbed exactly what you are being asked to do. The real skill of exam performance is not how much you know, but being able to use what you know in order to address the questions you’re being asked or the challenges you’ve been set.
Budget your time wisely
Allocate the right amount of time for each part of the exam. A good rule of thumb is that time spent on each part of the exam should roughly reflect the marks assigned. There will be exceptions to this, but avoid the risk of getting carried away with a perfectionist’s approach to one part of the exam at the expense of getting through everything you have been assigned. Try to save some time at the end of each exam to check through what you’ve done and to address any omissions or pick up on any mistakes.
Avoid post mortems
As soon as one exam is over, move swiftly on to focusing on the next one. Dwelling on an exam that you have already completed wastes energy and time, and will drive you crazy. Remember, be positive, stay calm, and mobilise your energies to do the best job possible on the day!