Maths GCSE Exam – the night before

We know that exam period can be tense, and the night before an exam your mind starts to switch to panic mode.

If you’re just a few days away from your exams, you will have done most of the hard work before now and you’re ready to get the exam out of the way.

Here at Tavistock Tutors, we have compiled a list of things to do to make sure you’re fully prepared for your exam.

1. Remain calm

Exam season is a very stressful period. A helpful trick is to calm your mind by assuring yourself that you will be fine – and often this will actually convince your brain!

It’s often easier said than done to remain calm when you’re panicked for an upcoming exam, but stress and anxiety will often be more harmful than beneficial. It can often stifle your focus and concentration by preventing you from continuing in a calm manner.

If you’re feeling panicked, try and take a small break of around 10 or 15 minutes. Find a relaxing and distraction-free study space where you can spend a small amount of time thinking of something else other than your exam. Try to stand up and stretch away from your workspace, you could maybe even grab some snacks!

It might even be helpful to practice some mindfulness in order to calm yourself. There are plenty of amazing apps and devices out there to encourage mindfulness. By just practicing mindfulness or meditating for 5 minutes you will be focused solely on your breathing and your body. This will enable you to avoid thinking about your exam briefly and refocus your breathing to calm your body down.

Be sure to keep taking breaks during your study session – breaking your session into smaller segments with regular intervals for breaks will make your revision seem more achievable.

2.Find an ideal study spot

Try and find a quiet spot where you can read over your notes away from distractions such as the TV or the internet. Tell people at home that you’re revising for the night and would like not to be disturbed.

Try to avoid studying in your bedroom if you can so that you’re not tempted to have a quick snooze!

3.Don’t try to learn anything new

You may be tempted to cram the night before an exam. When you’re reading over your notes don’t get panicked, you often know a lot more than you think. Often cramming new information will be difficult, and sometimes the stress can also make you forget other content you had previously learned. It’s better to know 70% of the syllabus well than have a shaky knowledge which won’t be useful in the exam.


4. Review your revision resources

Because you’re not learning anything new, you should feel relatively confident with the content you have been revising for weeks. Try and have another glance through your revision resources and your flashcards to test your knowledge and repeat those that you are finding difficult.

You could maybe even watch a video or two online to go over a topic to consolidate your knowledge of the subject. Have a read of our article Maths GCSE video revision resources to find some of our recommended video channels!

5. Know your formulas

Make sure that you know all of the necessary formulas for your exam. Try and recall them and focus on improving your memory of those you’re struggling with.

Have a read of Tavistock Tutors’ article Maths GCSE Essential Formulas to look through all the formulas you’re expected to know.

6. Get all of your stuff ready

It’s a good idea to plan ahead by making sure that you have all the necessary equipment in your pencil case ready for the next day. This will allow you to avoid unnecessary stress in the morning which could stress you out.

Here’s a list of the equipment you should have:


Black Pen: your answers will need to be written in Black pen throughout your exam, so make sure that you have some ready before. It’s a great idea to have plenty which you can use for all of your exams.

Try and ideally have 3 black pens: one to use, one to lose and one to lend. Then you shouldn’t need to worry in case yours breaks or stops working during an exam!

Pencil: You will be able to do all of your working out with a pencil, so also make sure that you have plenty ready, as well as a sharpener! A blunt pencil won’t be very useful at all!

Rubber: Try and bring a rubber so you can rub out any working out that needs redoing, if you don’t have one you can also just cross out anything you don’t want to be marked.

Ruler: A ruler is an essential for a maths exam, whether you’re measuring length or trying to draw diagrams, make sure you pack a ruler!

Protractor: Similarly, a protractor will be needed for questions relating to shape and angles. Make sure that you know how to use a protractor and pack one in your pencil case ready for the exam.

Compass: A compass will be handy if you’ll be drawing circles in your exam, make sure that you have one which is not broken so that it will be able to draw a neat circle, and that you also have a pencil to use with it!

Scientific Calculator: This will only be necessary for your calculator exams – but is essential for those exams which allow a calculator!


Pencil case: not 100% vital but it’s better to carry all of your items in either a pencil case or plastic bag so that they stay together for each exam. If you bring a pencil case into an examination room, it will need to be clear.

Bottle of Water: It’s always a good idea to have a bottle of water handy in your exam to make sure you’re hydrated as sometimes examination halls can get pretty stuffy in the summer months. If you do bring a bottle, it needs to be clear with all labels removed.

7. Look after yourself

It’s important not to be too hard on yourself during exam period as you need to make sure that you’re looking after yourself properly so that you have plenty of energy for your exams.

Staying up all night will inevitably make you very tired the next morning. Try to avoid staying up too late, and make sure that you get around 8 hours sleep so that you can properly focus the next day.

Try and review your notes quickly once more for 20 minutes on your way to school.

Also make sure that you eat a decent breakfast in the morning which will give you slow-release energy if you’ve got an exam in the morning. This will provide you with lots of brain fuel to keep you focused all morning.

This also means that you shouldn’t be hungry when you take the exam and your stomach won’t be rumbling in the silent exam hall.

8.  During the Exam

Once you get into the exam, don’t become a victim of blind panic. When you first open the paper it’s common to feel overwhelmed as if the question is in a different language, but this is just initial panic.

Try and focus your mind by writing down some useful formulas at the front quickly which will remind you of how much you know, and this will calm your mind down ready to get on with the exam.

In most maths exams the questions will get harder throughout. Start the exam with the easier questions from the beginning and if you’re stuck on a question draw an asterisk in the corner to remind yourself to complete it towards the end.

Try not to panic if you find yourself stuck on a specific question. Take a deep breath, have a drink of water and recall what you have studied and try to solve with confidence. Remember that even if you don’t reach the correct answer, writing down your working out methods could still earn some vital marks – so be sure to write down all of your thoughts as you work through each problem!

Hope these tips will help you prepare for a maths test the night before the exam. Keep calm, stay positive and focus. Good Luck from Tavistock Tutors.

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