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Top 10 exam day survival tips

By Emcfarnon  |  Posted: May 13, 2013

It is vital to keep calm and read the questions carefully on exam day - picture Kate Woolhouse

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The papers are laid out, the mobile phones switched off and invigilators ready – the GCSE and SAT exams are about to begin.

As thousands of pupils prepare to sit their first ever set of exams, we round up 10 top tips to help you survive the day:

1) A breakfast of brain food

A healthy breakfast is vital on exam day – your brain needs the energy to work properly, and the last thing you want is to have a rumbling stomach mid-test. Bananas, eggs, nuts, yoghurt and cottage cheese are great brain foods.

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Stay away from foods made of white flour, such as cookies, cakes, and muffins, which require extra time and energy to digest. Also avoid foods which are high in sugar, such as chocolates, desserts and sweets.

And make sure you drink enough water before and during your exam.

2) Timing is everything

Exam day is stressful enough without watching the clock, so make sure you set out in good time and arrive at the exam with plenty of time to spare.

Make sure your watch is working and put it on your desk where you can see it, rather than wearing it on your wrist. This will save you having to stop and look at it.

3) Come fully equipped

You’ll be sent into a panic if your pen runs out mid-exam, so make sure you bring a couple of backups. And check they are all working before you set out to the exam.

Also ensure you have everything else you need – your school ID number (if you have one), pencils, a sharpener and highlighters. You might also want to bring a bottle of water and a couple of tissues.

4) Bring a keepsake

Some people find it comforting to bring along a memento to their exams – a miniature teddy bear, a lucky necklace or a photo of a friend or your family. This can help put a smile on your face when you need it most.

5) Read and re-read

Spend time reading and re-reading the question carefully, and highlighting the key words. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through writing your answer before realising you’ve misread or misunderstood the question.

6) Plan your answer

Writing a plan before you start on your answer will help you to get your head around the question and help ensure you don’t forget anything. Write out bullet points and cross them off as you go along.

7) Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar

There are extra marks available for correct SPG. Make sure you use capital letters for all names of people, countries, cities, towns etc, and ensure your sentences make sense.

8) Be neat and tidy

The examiner has hundreds of papers to mark and won’t have the time or patience for answers which are hard to read or understand. Make sure your handwriting is neat and tidy, and ensure what you’re saying makes sense.

9) Keep calm and carry on

Everyone feels nervous when it comes to exams, but the key is to keep your cool. Take a deep breath, collect yourself and carry on. Look back at your plan if you lose your train of thought.

10) Check your work

If you have time, read back over your work when you’ve finished all the questions. Make sure everything makes sense and make any necessary corrections.

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