Exam Writing Tips

If you heeded the advice given in a previous blog (Preparing for Exams) you should be mentally prepared to tackle your final exams. You will have studied, reviewed, and anticipated the questions, and you should be feeling relatively confident about your exams. The following tips are intended to help you ace your exams on the day of!


  • Mental preparation is key for exam day, but physical preparation is also important. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep in order to ensure optimal brain performance (sometimes the ‘pre-exam’ jitters make this difficult the night before a test, so try to gain some extra sleep in the days leading up to the exam).
  • Actual preparation is just as important. Make sure that you prepare all your test materials for the night before in order to avoid any morning stress. Pack your bag with a few Number 2 pencils (for multiple-choice exams), a water bottle, pens, any material that you can bring into the exam, a watch, and a snack if allowed.
  • Have a bite to eat before you sit down to write your exams – you don’t want to be thinking about bacon and eggs when you’re supposed to be focusing on an essay question!
  • Avoid overloading on coffee and caffeine – again, you want to be as focused as possible when you are writing your exams. Caffeine can make you jittery, and could have you thinking about the bathroom instead of the test!
  • If you’re given a choice of seating, choose wisely. Minimize distractions; sit where you will be most comfortable and focused. If permitted, bring earplugs to wear.
  • Preview the test and questions before you start writing the exam. This will help you determine how to manage your time and focus your strengths. Don’t spend too long reading through the test – just eyeball it to get a sense of what you’re dealing with.
  • Manage your time – designate a time frame for each section and pace yourself as you go through the exam. If you become stuck on an answer, put an  star or a sticky note beside it to remind you that it’s incomplete, and move on to the next question.
  • If there is scrap paper available, use it to brainstorm ideas, essay structures or to jot down formulas or mnemonics that you may have prepared.


Once you have completed your exam, and if time permits, review your answers and make any necessary changes.


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