Essential Tips for The Night Before An Exam

The night before an exam can be an anxious and crucial time for students of all ages, from KS2 to KS5. It's a time when both parents and students may experience a mix of emotions, ranging from excitement to nervousness.

The goal is to ensure that students are mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming challenge, regardless of the specific exam type they are facing. 

In this blog, we will provide in-depth advice and tips for both parents and students to navigate the pre-exam jitters, create an effective preparation routine, and start the day of the exam right. At the end - one of our student tutors explains what helped her get through the night before exams during her school exams. 

Understanding Pre-Exam Jitters

Acknowledge and Normalize Emotions: It's normal for students to feel anxious before an exam. As the majority of their life has been spent in school, the arrival of these exams and their apparent significance on their future is a very new and scary experience.

Encourage open discussions about their feelings and reassure them that it's natural to experience a range of emotions. It’s helpful to be reassured that although students put pressure on themselves, others in their life support them no matter what.

Everyone can only do the best they can in the moment and there is nothing final about an exam. The world is full of life-changing opportunities, most of which don’t appear until well after school is done and dusted!

Mental Preparation

Continue the Usual Routine:

Consistency helps in creating a sense of normalcy and comfort. It also removes the temptation to stay up late and cram some more information in if it is treated like any other evening.

Discourage Cramming

Advise your child not to cram the night before the exam. Cramming can lead to information overload and increased stress when they realise it isn’t sinking in. Encourage them to review their notes briefly and focus on getting a good night's sleep instead to encourage a positive mindset on what lies ahead. 

This isn’t always met with total agreement, so try not to enforce it too hard. Cramming can also win a few easy marks in gaps of study at times!

Offer Words of Encouragement:

Offer words of encouragement and support, reminding your child that you believe in their abilities and that they have prepared well. Boost their confidence and reassure them that they are capable of doing their best. The best person to do this may be their tutor. In fact, 88% of people said that having an online tutor helped reduce exam stress.

Be Available for Questions:

Be available to answer any last-minute questions or concerns your child may have about the exam. Offer guidance and help them feel at ease by addressing their worries - but try not to add to their stress unnecessarily. 

We see a lot of students contact their tutors with some last-minute questions or words of encouragement and that takes a lot of the pressure off parents that may feel helpless in those times.

Stay Positive:

Maintain a positive atmosphere at home. Avoid discussing negative experiences or exam pressure. Instead, focus on uplifting and positive conversations to boost your child's morale. Treat them as normal as possible unless they ask for help - nobody under stress likes to feel like people are walking on eggshells around them.

Lead by Example:

Demonstrate calmness and a positive attitude yourself. Your demeanour can significantly impact your child's emotions and behaviour, even subconsciously!

Physical Preparation

Get a Good Night's Sleep: 

Adequate sleep is essential for cognitive function and memory consolidation. Establish a regular sleep routine in the run-up to exam season and ensure your child gets enough rest the night before the exam. 

Emphasize the importance of a full night's sleep, aiming for 9-11 hours of sleep depending on their age. To help this, ensure your child's bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, quiet, and comfortable. Make sure they have whatever helps them feel at ease - unless it’s got a screen!

Minimize Screen Time: 

Limit screen time in the evening, especially close to bedtime. Blue light from screens can interfere with sleep quality. Encourage your child to read a book or engage in other screen-free activities.

Eat a Balanced Diet: 

Prepare nutritious meals and snacks to fuel their brain. Avoid heavy or greasy foods that may cause discomfort or lethargy or overly spicy meals that can disturb sleep. The best pre-exam meals are rich in protein, whole grains, and vegetables.


Encourage your child to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can affect concentration and cognitive performance.

Relaxation Techniques: 

Encourage your child to engage in relaxing activities like reading a book, listening to calming music, or teach them to do some gentle stretches to help manage stress, reduce anxiety and promote a good night's sleep. 

If a more direct method is required - try some mindfulness techniques while practicing some controlled, slow, deep breaths. A great beginner's guide to these techniques is seen in the great Netflix shows by Headspace. Try it!

Exam Day Preparation

Wake Up Early: 

Start the day with ample time to avoid rushing. Wake up early to allow for a calm and unhurried morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast: 

Provide a balanced breakfast consisting of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Positive Visualization: 

Encourage your child to visualize themselves performing well in the exam. Positive visualization can boost confidence and reduce anxiety. There’s still time for a little positive encouragement!

Pack The Essentials: 

The essential tools to sit an exam are usually just a black ballpoint pen (not a felt, gel or fountain pen that can smudge) and a suitable bottle of water that is clear and has no label on it.

You would be surprised how many people forget a pen or use an old one! It makes sense to use the same one they have used for schoolwork before or pick one that is comfortable to write with. Always bring a spare!

Depending on the exam type and level they may be encouraged to use a pencil with an eraser for mistakes and a suitable calculator. For KS3 and up they usually are required to bring a calculator.


In conclusion, the night before an exam is a crucial time for students to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the upcoming challenge. By implementing the in-depth tips provided in this guide, students can set themselves up for success and approach their exams with confidence.

It's important to remember that every student is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, it's essential to tailor these tips to suit individual needs and preferences. Encourage students to experiment with different strategies and find what works best for them.

By prioritizing mental well-being, such as managing pre-exam jitters and fostering a positive mindset, students can approach the exam with a sense of calm and confidence. Providing them with effective study techniques, such as creating a study schedule, practising past papers, and utilizing active learning methods, will enhance their preparedness and boost their performance.

Additionally, emphasizing the significance of a good night's sleep, proper nutrition, and hydration will ensure that students are physically ready for the demands of the exam day. Encourage them to engage in relaxation techniques or activities that help them unwind and destress.

Lastly, remember the importance of support and encouragement. As parents, guardians, or educators, provide a nurturing and motivating environment for students to thrive. Offer words of encouragement, express belief in their abilities, and remind them that their best effort is what truly matters.

With the right mindset, preparation, and support, students from KS2 to KS5 can approach their exams with poise and achieve their desired outcomes. Remember, success is not solely determined by the exam result, but by the effort, growth, and resilience demonstrated throughout the process.

Advice to Students - From a Recent Student!

Check out her profile by clicking the image above!

Hello everyone! I've crafted a few additional tips to enhance the blog further. I believe that the most significant contribution my parents made during my exams was providing emotional support. 

The night before exams, I often felt overwhelmed by the stress of their importance. Recognising my vulnerability, my parents would sit with me, offering encouraging conversations that not only boosted my confidence but also helped me secure those extra marks that could have slipped away had I faced the exam in a state of distress. 

In addition to the emotional support I received, another valuable contribution was my parents providing a nourishing breakfast on the day of the exam. 

I often feel queasy on exam days, which makes me very particular about what I eat. Hence, I truly appreciated it when my parents prepared a healthy breakfast that both suited my taste and provided the energy I needed for the exam. 

This approach not only ensured that I was adequately prepared for the test but also allowed me to utilise the breakfast preparation time for some extra last-minute revision.

One thing that is paramount is the environment of your home. A difficulty I faced repeatedly during the exam period was the noisy surroundings of my home while I was trying to revise. Many students may have other family members or pets etc. around the house which can distract them from their revision. 

I believe that one very helpful tip for parents is to try and keep the household as calm and quiet as possible or facilitate them going to the library by offering a lift for example. This ensures that the student can focus all their attention on studying and allows them to score as high as possible with their last-minute revision. 

Now that we’ve talked about how parents can help their children with the lead-up to exams. Let’s talk about what you can do… Here are a few small tips that I would recommend for the day before the exam:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Try not to leave all the cramming to the night before
  • Make sure you have packed all the equipment for the exam the night before
  • Try and keep as calm as possible

Those are my most important tips for navigating the night before exams. I wish the best of luck to everyone taking exams.

Remember, the night before the exam should be a time to foster a sense of calmness, confidence, and readiness. Your support and a conducive environment can go a long way in helping your child perform well on their exam.

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Imran M


"Sports, Business, and Economics Tutor: Unlock Your Potential."

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