The priority at this late stage is that you enter the examination hall well-rested, well-fed and with an appropriate level of stress.
1. Sleep early every night
- Go to bed before 10pm (or 9pm with an exam the next day)
- Wake up naturally. If you’re waking up too late, go to sleep at 7pm.
- Avoid backlit screens for one hour prior to sleeping. Backlit screens emit light in the 484-nanometre range, which excites melanopsin in the retinal ganglion cell photoreceptor. This disrupts your circadian rhythm and keeps you awake!
2. Eat healthily
- Eat regular meals at regular times.
- Eat plenty of fruit. (Five per day.)
- Drink plenty of water.
3. Get some lighter exercise
- Avoid exhausting sports around exam time (e.g. rugby).
- Do more walking, jogging, and lighter sports at exam time (e.g. badminton).
- Drink plenty of water(!) Aim to drink 3 litres per day.
Research has shown that you perform difficult tasks (such as a Chemistry exam) much better under moderately relaxed conditions. The famous Yerkes-Dodson curve illustrates this beautifully.
More information about the Yerkes-Dodson curve.
Light exercise will help you to position yourself at the tip of that blue curve, which will optimise your state of mind for learning as much as possible in the few days you’ve got left.
Second, do targeted revision.
4. Mise en place (get everything ready)
- Read my post on The 2 Ingredients of Excellent Exam Revision
- Print plenty of practice exam papers and answer keys (ask your school for these).
- Make an Exam Revision Timetable. (Click for instructions.)
5. Spend 3½ hours doing a practice examination
- Spend 3½ hours doing the exam in semi-exam conditions.
- Mark it immediately afterwards.
- Keep it for next time: you’ll use the incorrect questions to guide your theory revision (step 6).
6. Spend 3½ hours reading & annotating your textbook
- Read and annotate the textbook chapters relating to questions you got wrong.
- DON’T READ YOUR NOTES. Read the textbook instead: it’s much clearer.
- Re-do those questions now you’ve learned the theory behind them.
- Follow steps 1-4 on How to use a Textbook: 6 Rules to Follow. This includes making vocabulary lists and beautiful, clear theory notes to go on your wall.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 (in this article) every day. (Study at least 7 hours per day.)
Finally, get help.
7. Get help!
- Contact your teacher with any questions you have; exam content you don’t understand or worries you have about the exam.
- Talk to a friend if you’re stressed about the exam.
- Check out the resources below if your stress levels are still too high.
8. More resources
- NDTV did a great slideshow on exam stress (very similar to this post)
- Exam stress tips from Reachout.com
- Great advice from the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK
- More strategies from AnxietyUK