How to get through exam day: Jacinta’s tips for before and after an exam

Written by Jacinta Humphrey, a Peer Learning Advisor (PLA) at La Trobe. PLAs are experienced students specially trained to help others with study and assessments. To get help from a PLA, access the PLA drop-in service during semester.

Exam time is here, and it’s important to be prepared for the big day. Here are my top tips for what to do before and after your exam.

Before your exam

1. Fuel your brain

Not everyone is a big fan of breakfast, but you should try to eat something before your exam. It doesn’t have to be a massive spread of bacon and eggs, just something to fuel your brain for the task ahead. It’s also important to stay hydrated – I like to keep a water bottle next to me throughout the day. And of course, make sure you have some snacks prepared in case you get hungry during the exam!

2. Be prepared

Online exams are a new thing for most of us. Make sure you know exactly how your exam will work before the timer starts. Do you know how to access the exam? Is it on LMS or do you access via another link? It’s important to have all this information ready to go so you can easily refer to it on the day. This will help to reduce stress levels and will ensure you turn up on time.

3. Find your focus

In the last hour or so before your exam starts, try to get yourself into the right head space. You might want to switch off from social media, take some deep breaths, or listen to some relaxing music. Find what works for you and focus on the task at hand. Then it’s time to click on the link and start your exam. You’ve got this!

After your exam

1. Debrief and destress

After your exam ends, you might be a bit hyped up from all the adrenaline! It can be helpful to debrief with someone. You might want to chat with a friend in your class, a family member or housemate. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t sit the exam with you – it’s still helpful to talk about the experience. If there isn’t anyone around to chat to at the time, or if you’d prefer not to talk to someone, pencil in some time to do an activity that helps you destress like walking the dog, playing a computer game, or whatever you normally do to chill out.

2. Accept the outcome and move on

Sometimes when an exam ends, you can feel like there were things you could have done differently. Maybe you should have talked about *that topic* in the essay? Or maybe the answer to that multiple-choice question was actually B? This is a normal reaction, but it isn’t a helpful one. Try not to dwell on things because once the exam is over, you can’t change it! It’s done, and it’s important to move on, especially if you have another exam coming up soon. You did your best on the day and that’s all that matters right now.

3. Treat yourself

Regardless of how your exam went, you should do something to reward yourself when it’s over! I like to plan these things in advance, so I have something fun to look forward to. You could get something nice for dinner or dessert (hello Uber Eats!), get outdoors and have a picnic with friends, hit up some online shopping, or have a nap. Whatever your choose, enjoy yourself – you’ve earned it!