There is no arguing the fact that a big exam is going to be stressful. Even if you are an extraordinarily strong test taker, you never want to go into an exam unprepared. The night before any big test can be an especially difficult challenge as you try to quiet your brain down and get some sleep; however, that is often easier said than done. In most cases, your brain tends to run wild and negative thoughts can enter your mind. This then prevents sleep, and before you know it, morning arrives, and you have been up all-night stressing about your upcoming test.
That is why the night before a big exam is one of the most important times to really examine if you are well-prepared, put yourself in the best frame of mind and take care of your body in the final 24 hours leading up to the event.
One of the most crucial things you will need to do the day before your big test is to manage your time effectively. Do not oversleep and waste half your day “relaxing” only to stress out that night. Regardless of what test you are taking, we are going to give you some of the most effective strategies and tips for preparing your mind and body for an important exam.
Organize The Necessary Supplies
When getting ready for the exam the next day, you want to make sure all your bases are covered. As such, not only should you gather any necessary supplies required by the testing center, but you should also prepare breakfast for the next day as well as any snacks or beverages to bring with you for breaks during the exam.
For testing supplies, you want to check the testing materials and information you have been given. Many tests will allow you to bring certain things, like a calculator, scratch paper, or a certain amount of notes or preparatory materials. Make sure you gather all of this and have it organized, staged, and ready to go the next morning.
While you are checking your materials, see if you can bring snacks or drinks, or if there will be a meal break. If so, make sure you plan accordingly and have those items ready. Remember, even if you are allowed a meal break, you probably will not want any food that needs to be cooked. Instead bring granola bars, bottled water, or maybe a sports drink. That should be more than enough to keep your mind and body working at peak performance throughout the test.
For breakfast, again, this is not something you want to deal with in the morning. A quick morning meal with plenty of protein will make sure your neurons are firing for those exam questions. Something low prep and easy to eat is perfect, like some overnight oats for example.
Lastly, make sure you bring an ID as many testing centers need to verify identity beforehand.
Do A LIGHT Review
This is one that trips up a lot of people. They look at the day before the test as the last day to cram in as much knowledge as they can, but unfortunately, brains just do not work that way. If you are still struggling with material the day before, the fact is you probably just do not know it. This is not the time for cramming, this is the time for thoughtful and light review.
For example, if you are studying for the MCAT, check your outline and quickly run through any especially pertinent or easily forgettable equations or topics. A great way to review is to run through flashcards. They are quick, helpful and do not tackle any heavy subjects you have not already been exposed to.
Eat A Filling And Healthy Dinner
This tip is self-explanatory. Try your best to eat a healthy and balanced dinner the night before. You will sleep better, review more effectively, and your mind will thank you for it the next day. Here are a few foods that have been linked to increased brainpower:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Fatty fish
This is one of the best ways to clear your mind and prepare your body for a big exam. Exercising even a little will help reduce stress by incredible amounts, along with releasing endorphins, which can make you feel better in general.
If you can do something a little more draining, like running or hitting the gym for some time with the free weights, it will help significantly with helping you get a restful night of sleep. Whether you do yoga, cycle, run, or even just go out for a leisurely walk around the block, it can go a long way to ensuring your mind and body are ready for the next day.
In addition to all the other important items on your list, make sure you take time to relax. Spend some time with your loved ones. Having a nice relaxing evening with friends or family, eating a nice dinner, and going for a walk afterward can help you have one of the best pre-test nights you can remember. One caveat though, if you choose to relax with your friends, make sure you keep an eye on the time. Time tends to fly by when you’re having fun, and the last thing you want to do the night before the big exam is overshoot your bedtime by more than you want to admit. Also, you’ll want to avoid consuming any alcohol the night before the exam.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Perhaps the most important thing you can do the night before a big exam is to get some rest. Of course, this is easier said than done. Thinking about the upcoming exam can certainly be stressful and insomnia-inducing, but we highly recommend trying to clear your mind so you can get some sleep.
If you anticipate having trouble sleeping, try to start your bedtime routine earlier than planned to give yourself plenty of time to fall asleep at an appropriate time. You may also want to take a long, hot shower or bath about 90 minutes before you go to bed in order to change your body’s core temperature. After your bath, put on some cozy pajamas and turn on some nature sounds, white noise, or relaxing music to drift off to sleep.
The night before the big exam does not have to be a stressful and nerve-wracking evening. By following these 6 tips and making sure to practice a little more self-care than you might ordinarily exercise, you will be sure to wake up refreshed and renewed. Make sure you eat your breakfast then go crush that exam!
There is a direct correlation between eight hours of good sleep and a student's stress level. What is more, it is important to adhere to regular sleep time patterns. The lack of good and regular sleep affects not only students’ moods but also their health condition and performance.
The importance of sleep cannot be overestimated and there is even such term as “sleep efficiency” that stands for the quality of sleep. Without the “efficient” sleep, good performance simply cannot be achieved. And even though there are thousands of cases proving this, the need for good sleep often remains ignored.
Alaska Sleep Clinic is the only sleep lab in the state of Alaska with a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep, Dr. Angie Randazzo. If stress if affecting your sleep and your stress level, call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists.