It’s the night before the exam and emotions are running high. Here are 10 tips and tricks to get you prepared and ready for the next day, covering everything from last minute revision techniques to what to eat before the exam itself.
1. Grab yourself a feast
Make an effort to treat yourself and indulge in a tasty meal; it will boost your mood and set you up well for the next day. Some great memory enhancing foods include:
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout and sardines are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
- Berries: particularly blueberries, have shown to improve memory and even delay short term memory loss. Try sprinkling them in your cereal or as a simple snack.
- Oranges: the vitamin C in oranges fight free radicals that can damage brain cells. Vitamin C can be found in bell peppers, kiwi, tomatoes and strawberries.
- Eggs: Eggs are a good source of Choline, an important micronutrient that your body uses to create neurotransmitters to help memory.
2. Nothing new!
Never run a marathon in new shoes! The ‘nothing new’ logic works for exams too, if you haven’t tried it before, now is not the time to experiment. Stick to what you know and what you’ve practiced, go with what worked for you in the past.
3. Take a nap
Many people think that sacrificing sleep for study time is a must the night before their exam, but multiple studies show that getting enough sleep (6.5 – 8 hours) is a vital way to consolidate key information. Try this routine: come home, take a quick power nap (20-30 minutes) and then get your head stuck down into some studying before making sure you get a good night’s sleep.
4. Make your own exam
Prepare yourself for exactly what you’re going into. Engineer your own exam by going through all of your materials and looking for possible questions. Don’t be easy on yourself, imagine you’re the examiner and you will find where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Make use of our online question bank to create your own question paper, or have a search through our wealth of past papers.
5. Try the Pomodoro...
Many have found this method incredibly effective when meeting deadlines or powering through never-ending to-do lists. The Pomodoro Method of Productivity is essentially interval training for your brain. Work on one thing for an interval of 25-30 minutes then take a short break to grab a drink and stretch the legs. After 4-5 sets of this take a longer main break for 15 – 30 minutes then start the routine again. The most important thing to remember with this method is to focus entirely on your work in the 25-30 minutes of working.
6. Get yourself together!
Getting yourself fully ready the night before is key to preventing unnecessary rushing and panicking on the morning of your exam. Gather all of the equipment you’ll need for the exam and lay out your clothes ready to put on in the morning. Be prepared!
7. Ditch the caffeine
Avoid caffeine before your exam, a cup of coffee in the evening can affect your ability to reach deep stages of sleep, which is critical for memory formation.
Here are a few caffeine substitutes for you to try:
- Lemon and honey tea: simply squeeze half a lemon into your favourite mug, add a teaspoon of honey and top off with hot water.
- Herbal teas: not just great for colds; herbal teas are fantastic for calming nerves and staying hydrated. There are tonnes of flavours in the shops from, liquorice root to strawberry, you’ll easily find your favourite flavour.
- Smoothies: try experimenting with your favourite fresh fruits and veggies and enjoy a refreshing, protein filled boost.
8. Get your cardio in
If you’ve got time, try and squeeze in a power session before 7pm the night before your exam to get the blood, oxygen and nutrients pumping through your brain. This helps improve your memory and problem-solving skills. It doesn’t need to be anything too intense, something as simple as walking the dog or a taking couple of laps around the block will be beneficial.
9. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more!
Drinking water is directly linked to your brain function. Keep away from the energy drinks, as they could contribute to increasing your nerves the next day. Aim to drink 8-10 glasses (or 2 litres) of water a day. This sounds like a lot but if you keep a bottle with you and take frequent sips, you’ll get through it in no time.
10. Use your last moments wisely
The last few minutes before your head hits the pillow are prime time for memorisation. As you tuck up into bed before sleeping, your memory retention improves significantly, so go over those key words, equations and theories right before switching off to make the most of that extra brainpower!
We hope these tips benefit you as you gear up for your examinations and we wish you all the best.