Top tips for a stress free exam

June 5, 2015
Category: Blog

This year some people were shocked by questions in their Maths GCSE exam: which stemmed a mass twitter campaign from students.

Panicking in exam

Panicking gets you nowhere

In case you have any stumbling blocks in your exam, we’ve compiled some ideas to help you get through it to the best of your ability.

Panicking gets you nowhere, stay calm and if the questions are tricky remember that, as proven in the recent twitter campaign,  everyone will likely be thinking the same, so your chances haven’t changed.

If you have done effective revision and stayed healthy with good amounts of sleep your brain will be ready to perform.



Plan carefully

On the day of your exam make sure that you know when and where the exam is and get there in plenty of time. Make sure you have everything with you that you need – pens, pencils, rubber, calculator? and that you have any identification or necessary details.

When you open the paper, read the whole thing prior to picking up your pen, then read it again.  Use this time to work out which questions you’re going to do and how much time you are going to spend on each one and note the mark scheme so that you can time the answer accordingly.

sitting exam

If you get stuck, move on

Read what is required of you on the front page of the paper carefully, answering the wrong sections/ too many questions in the exam would be devastating.

Make sure you write down your timings to help you feel in control and do your best to stick to these as closely as possible. Don’t forget to give yourself 10 minutes to read over your answers at the end.

Remember that an exam isn’t about showing how much you know, it is about answering a question properly and demonstrating that you are able to apply your knowledge correctly. You might be tempted to answer a question on a subject that you know lots about, but it might actually be a difficult question and the subject that you find more difficult may have a question that you can answer better. Choose the questions that you are able to answer most effectively.

 Give yourself a clue – Look at the mark scheme

Look at the mark scheme to make sure that you will be answering the question as required. If a question has 3 marks, it is likely to be expecting you to point out 3 things, bear this in mind. It will also require less time than a 15 mark answer.

Don’t panic if you run over your time scale by a few minutes, but do make sure that you will be able to make it up. Running out of time makes the exam stressful and you won’t perform as well.

 Start with the easiest question

In doing this you will:

1) Boost your confidence because you will have safely completed a question that you are pleased with

2) If it is the easiest, you should find you spend less time on it. It gives you the opportunity to answer it well, but to also give you more time for the question that you think might be harder, without having to start it and then come back to it in fear of running out of time

If you get stuck, move on

On papers with lots of questions, like maths or science, be careful not to wind yourself up on a question that you get stuck on. You don’t have time. Move to the next question and come back to it later, you will be surprised how your brain might work when it returns to the question, it will be a bit refreshed and possibly confident that you have managed to answer other questions

Don’t forget to use your common sense, take a stab at answers even if you don’t know the answer for sure, it could be worth some marks. Noone can give you marks for a blank space

 Keep hydrated and energised

Take some water in with you and sip it slowly (don’t drink too much, you don’t want to be going for a pee). Check this out to see the benefits: in a chocolate bar or banana too if you think you might need an energy boost


This goes for all exams. Make sure you explain to the examiner what you are doing. For a maths exam, even if you come to the wrong answer, if you can show that you used the right method, you will get some marks. In a written paper, if you show your essay plan but you run out of time, you will still get marks credited. It is always worth it.

 Running out of time?

Sometimes this happens and if it does you need to know how best to deal with the situation. If you have 2 questions left but you don’t have time to do them both, you should write plans for each, write the beginning of your answer for both and then bullet point the rest of your answer, or for a maths question, detail what calculations you would do to get to the answer. You get more points at the start of an answer than at the end, so this means that you will maximise your marks.

 Why are you leaving early?

Unless you are 100% sure that you are going to score 100%, you should not walk out of an exam early. Read over your answers, double check your calculations, check that your essay answer covers all the points in the plan. Then check again.