Exam In 24 hours: Smart Tips You Cannot Miss

The night before and the morning of the exam day are extremely crucial periods and require great parental support. We present valuable tips for both parents and students.

By Sahana Charan  • 16 min read

Exam In 24 hours: Smart Tips You Cannot Miss

Butterflies in the stomach, tossing in the bed, frequent restroom visits, and not to forget the over-chewed nails – well, you guessed it right – it is the final 24 hours before the exam. No matter how well prepared your child is, these last few hours can be unnerving. It is, therefore, very important that you do your bit to soothe the frayed nerves and give your child the much-needed boost to head into the examination hall with confidence. As a first step, recognise that exam anxiety is normal and not something to be unduly worried about.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exam anxiety often stems from the fear of failure and when children tie their self-worth to the outcome of an exam. A little pressure can be good as it motivates children to learn their lessons earnestly, but too much pressure can have the opposite effect. Too much anxiety, especially on the night before and the morning of the exam, can sometimes cause the child’s brain to completely blank out when they sit down to write the exam! Scary, right?

The onus is firmly on you, the parent. If you are supportive, your child will stay positive and employ smart techniques to be well-prepared. In this article ‘crafted’ just for you and your child, we have put together some smart tips for those last 24 hours that can have a transformative effect on your child’s exam outcome. Shall we get ‘smarter’?

Smart tips for students: Things to do the night before the exam

Tip 1: Write down important points and revise study notes

Reason: The night before the exam should be all about simple revision. It is imperative that a student prepares for the exam well in advance and does not keep anything pending for the last minute. During the days before the exam, as your child studies every day, encourage her to make study notes. Writing down always helps in remembering what one has studied. The night before the exam should largely be utilised to go through these study notes. This is not the period to try any new learning technique or tackle any new study material. Simple review of the study notes created over the past few days is all that should be done the night before.

Tip 2: Keep it relaxed

Reason: The night before the exam should be a relaxed one. Get your child to revise his chapters but ensure he takes frequent breaks too. Encourage him to get up and stretch; go for a walk; talk to family about things other than exams; watch a funny video for a few minutes or listen to relaxing music. He can also read or watch something that makes him laugh as this will lower his stress levels significantly. This, in turn, will help him get a good night’s sleep. Light exercise or a short brisk walk can do some good too. It can help reduce stress and recharge the brain.

Tip 3: Pack and keep it ready

Reason: On the night before the exam, make sure your child gathers all the materials she’ll need for the exam the next day. This includes her uniform, shoes, Hall ticket, identity card, writing pad, water bottle, stationery, among others. Make sure there’s adequate stationery – extra pens, pencils, erasers and any tools (like permissible calculators). All these should be packed in her school bag the night before to avoid last-minute panic.

Tip 4: Eat a good dinner

Reason: Your child’s overworked brain needs ‘healthy’ refuelling. He will need all the energy he can get to focus and concentrate on his studies. So, avoid junk food and instead, prepare a nutritious meal on the night before the big day. Get him to take a break from studying and sit down for a family dinner. For dinner, avoid food that is too spicy or sweet. If possible, try to have an early dinner so that there is gap between mealtime and sleep time. This time gap will help avoid any heartburn or acidity.

Also, ensure he is well-hydrated, as dehydration can impair concentration. Push him to keep taking sips at regular intervals. Leave a water bottle at his study table. However, ensure he doesn’t drink too much water right before bedtime as this could force him to wake up in the middle of the night to relieve himself.

Tip 5: Get a good night’s sleep

Reason: It is extremely critical your child understands that a lack of sleep the night before the big day can have an adverse effect on her physical and mental well-being. Unwell is one word you do not want to hear just before an important exam. Getting lots of rest is essential to stay focussed and to process new information. Burning midnight oil is not a way to do so. On the night before the exam, ensure your child goes to bed early and gets around 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This way, she will wake up bright and refreshed the next morning.

“Do not compromise on your sleep before exams. If you get a good night’s sleep, you can think with more clarity during exams,” says topper Karishma Arora

Tip 6: Stay calm and focused

Reason: Breathing exercises or yoga for 10 to 15 minutes will help your child stay calm under pressure. Encourage him to talk to you or a close friend about his concerns, if he’s feeling overwhelmed about appearing for the exams. Research also shows that listing out and writing down his concerns and fears will help reduce his anxiety levels. Keep him away from those friends and relatives, who will increase his anxiety regarding the exam. Ask him not to worry about how much his friends or classmates have been studying. Tell him this exam is about him and ask him to focus on writing the exam to the best of his abilities.

Here, are some quick takeaways from an expert:

“Students must remember that studying should happen all through the year and not on the day before the exam. They should work on keeping their notes ready and learnt so that the night before the exam is NOT spent cramming as that will only make the child upset and anxious. The last day should be used to revise the study points. It is also important to keep all the notes and materials organised, as this makes it easy to study,” says Dr Finita Roy, school counsellor at Bala Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary school, Chennai. Finita also believes that maintaining a happy and positive attitude before and during the exams is of utmost importance.
“Thinking about marks and having a negative attitude can only make matters worse. A student should stay relaxed and focused on the lessons, instead of thinking about the results,” she adds.

Tip 7: Don’t pay attention to distractions

Reason: Ensure domestic disturbances or discussions at home do not distract your child or interrupt her focus on studies. “I have noticed that many students get distracted with petty issues at home, which leads to lack of concentration. I always advise students to be a little selfish during the exams and detach themselves from whatever is happening around them, so that they focus only on their studies,” says school counsellor Dr Finita Roy.

Apart from the domestic issues, it could be a friend who needs some last-minute revision help or a neighbour who wants to recount the adventures of her trip – whatever be it – all it does is suck up your child’s precious time. Help her steer clear of all these unwarranted distractions.

Tip 8: Don’t let gadgets distract you

Reason: It may not be necessary to totally go off all gadgets on the night before the exam. But, keeping mobile chats and social media to a minimum is required to avoid unnecessary time spend. Also, it is important to stay focused and positive, the night before the exam. So, make sure your child avoids watching disturbing visuals or news on the television or Internet.

Smart tips for students: Things to do on the morning of the exam

Tip 1: Wake up on time and get ready

Reason: Avoid getting ready in a rush. It will only heighten your child’s anxiety level. He should try to reach the exam hall ahead of the scheduled time. So, it’s important that your child begins his day on a fresh note by waking up early.

Tip 2: Skim through the study notes

Reason: On the morning of the exam, ensure your child is not attempting to read from the textbook, as this might overwhelm her. If necessary, ask her to only browse through the important points from notes she has made. Else, it’s best to avoid any last-minute studying.

Tip 3: Check for all important materials to take

Reason: Has your child packed his bag the night before the exam? Ask him to do a recheck and ensure he is carrying enough stationery, relevant documents such as his hall ticket or admit card, and the necessary writing equipment.

Tip 4: Practise relaxation techniques

Reason: On the day of the exam, it is common to feel butterflies in the stomach. To help your child calm down, encourage her to take a few deep breaths for a couple of minutes each time she is feeling nervous. Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are proven ways to calm oneself.

Tip 5: Eat a good breakfast

Reason: Your child may not be in the right frame of mind to eat in the morning and the only thing he is thinking about is his exam. But, impress upon him that going to the exam hall on an empty stomach will make him feel irritable and disoriented. So, no matter what, make sure he does not skip this all-important meal. Ensure he eats a hearty and healthy breakfast.

Tip 6: Follow a ritual or carry a lucky charm

Reason: If you or your child wants to perform any rituals for good luck, go ahead and do that. The idea is to do anything that helps to your child feel good and optimistic, and to keep her mind focused. After all, if she is in the best frame of mind, half the battle won.

Tip 7: Avoid conflicts

Reason: Make sure your child avoids any kind of confrontation with neighbours, friends and other people, before going to the exam hall, be it at home or on the way to the exam centre. It would add to his anxiety.

Smart tips for parents: Dos and don’ts before the exam

Student counsellor Finita Roy’s advice to parents:

“On the previous night and on the day of the examination (and all other days), refrain from comparing your child with his siblings and friends or criticising his academic abilities. Be supportive and encouraging by telling your child to go and write the exam with confidence and not worry about results. Tell your child that you love and accept him the way he is. It is important parents ensure that the atmosphere is relaxed and positive.”

1. Be supportive and loving towards your child, as he works hard and puts in all his energy and effort into his studies. Let your child know you are available to help him whenever he needs you.

2. Create a happy and conducive environment for your child to study at home. Let her feel she can approach you with any problems. Tune in to your child’s feelings. Be there to listen to her concerns without any judgement or advices.

3. Avoid talk that focuses on marks. Instead, direct your conversations towards exam preparation, learning and effort.

4. Create a stress and disturbance-free space for your child. Avoid unnecessary domestic issues. Ensure family members don’t play loud music or watch TV with raised volumes.

5. Engage your child in interesting conversations (other than studies) during breaks.

6. Eat together as a family at the dinner table without gadgets. It is a wonderful time to share and converse.

7. Limit screen time. However, don’t make the mistake of allowing children to have unlimited access to mobile phones all through the year and then suddenly ban all gadgets before the exams. This will increase the tension between you and the children. So, regulate gadget use through the year and advise children to use them minimally during exams.

8. Make sure the mode of transport you choose for your child to reach the exam hall on time, is fuelled and ready. Avoid discussing controversial, emotional topics on way to the exam hall.

9. Prepare healthy and nutritious meals and snacks that will give your child an extra boost of energy.

10. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours on the night before the exam. Encourage your child to switch off all gadgets at least one hour before bedtime and make it a no-gadget-in-your-room night.

Examinations are an important part of your children’s academic life, but they should not determine her dignity and self-worth. If you create a loving environment for your child to study and instil confidence and positive attitude in her, she will find success.

About the author:

Written by Sahana Charan on 11 Feb 2020.

About the expert:

With inputs from Dr Finita Roy.

Finita Roy holds a doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Sciences and specialises in general psychology, rehabilitation therapy, speech therapy, family and childcare. With a number of publications to her credit, presently, she is a Student Counsellor at Bala Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary school, Chennai.

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