Examinations are a regular part of school and university life. They aim to find out exactly how much you know about different subjects, and how well you can manipulate this information to answer a given question. Most of the knowledge you need will have been taught to you several times before you take the exam, but most students still get stressed and don't perform as well as they could do during exam time.
The first thing to remember is that you need a revision plan. A few months before your exam, find your course list and make your own list of everything you need to know. Then, draw up a timetable that will allow you to study every module. Give shorter amounts of time to the parts you know, and longer amounts to anything you struggle with or don't understand. Print practise exam questions and make sure you have neat notes. Draw mind maps or rewrite your notes, do whatever it takes for you to revise the information so it is fresh in your mind. Aim to finish learning all the modules two weeks before the exam. Take the rest of the time to do more practice papers, mark them and repeat revision on any areas you get wrong.
For each subject, make sure you know your exam paper before you go in. How many questions will the paper have on it? How many of these are you required to answer? How much time do you have in total, and how much does that give you to answer each question? Use this information to plan how long you have to read the paper, decide what you want to answer and check your answer afterwards. Make sure you know whether to expect short answers, multiple choice, structured questions or essays. Also, consider if some questions are compulsory and where you can get most of your marks from.
The day before, reduce stress by knowing where the exam is, what time it starts, what you need to take it, what you aren't allowed to take in with you, and what you are expected to wear. Some universities will make you take anything with pockets off, whilst others require see-through pencil cases.
When you get into the exam, read the question two or three times and highlight the key words. Brainstorm the question and see how much you know, and relate the information you come up with, back to the question. Arrange these points logically, and start to write your answer. Make sure you reach a conclusion and summarise what you have written, and then review your work. Make sure you are writing clearly and coherently, and start with the question you feel most confident about answering. Look at how many marks each question is worth and aim to make that amount of points. Remember to check your spelling and use punctuation.
It's important to remember that you aren't expected to write everything you know about a topic. You will attract many more marks if you are selective about the information you use and you actually answer the question asked. Make sure that whatever you write has an introduction and a conclusion and makes sense. Remember that you don't get any marks for questions you don't even attempt.
After the exam, avoid talking about it outside. It's easy to convince yourself you did badly if you listen to the evidence of others. Remember that there is more than one way to answer a question! Use your performance to tweak your exam technique. If you ran out of time, make sure you leave more time during the next exam. If you didn't know enough, look at how much and how effectively you revised. Did you answer the question? Then forget about the exam and concentrate on the next one, knowing you did your best!