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  2. Revising and examinations
  3. Examinations
  4. In the examination hall

In the examination hall

On the day of the exam, make sure that you

  • have something to eat, even if you don’t want much
  • dress in layers so that you can be comfortable to suit the temperature in the room
  • bring the things you’ve collected together for the exam
  • get to the exam centre around 15 minutes early to make sure you can find the room and your allocated place
  • take some deep, slow breaths as you prepare to concentrate.

In this video, OU student Lynn describes her experience of a recent examination.

When you arrive at the exam centre you may prefer to sit quietly on your own rather than chat to other students. The anxiety of others can affect your mood and, rather than exchanging worries with other students, you may prefer to remain calm and focused. You could try using headphones and listening to music. Do what suits you and helps you feel calm and positive.

There will be a plan outside the exam room showing where the desks are for your module, then student names in alphabetical order for each module. You might see a student from your module, but your tutor won’t be there.

You’ll find your name on a desk record card on the desk – check that the name and personal identification number on it are correct, sign in the box and leave it with your Examination Allocation letter and your identification that includes your photograph and signature.

The exam invigilators check those papers, give general instructions, and help if you have any problems during the exam.

Once you are in your seat try not to look around. Your senses can be heightened by tension and can fasten on irrelevant details, such as what other students are doing or wearing. Try a visualisation of a relaxing scene, or relax using breathing exercises.

OU student Katharine describes her way of coping with the emotional demands of an examination.

Settling down

You may find it useful to plan the way you will start your exam. Having a routine can be calming when under pressure. This student recommends a checklist.

"I have a mental checklist of what I need to do once I've turned over the paper. I do this because I used to rush in and answer the first question that looked at all familiar. I tended not to plan and so the facts were all jumbled. My checklist makes me stop and think."

Exam stress can arise for many different reasons. These audio tracks explore some of those reasons and give you a way of rationalising your worries and coping with them.

If you feel stressed by the approaching examination, listen to this exam stress audio.

Relaxation exercises are an effective way of managing anxiety and stress. Listen to this relaxation audio when you are at home or in a comfortable and safe place.

The question paper and answer books

Although you can’t turn over the paper until the invigilator tells you to start, do make sure that the exam paper on your desk is the correct paper for your module and that the instructions all make sense to you. If any instructions are unclear, raise your hand to check with the invigilator before the exam time starts. You can also get more answer booklets from the invigilator. Some modules ask you to use more than one answer booklet because parts of the exam are marked separately, so follow the instructions in the question paper.

Other students

On the day of the exam there are students from other modules in the same room. Some may be taking exams of different lengths, so will leave at a different time. A number of exams allow certain module materials to be used, so there may be students with books on their desk. Once the examination has started, don’t worry about what other people do. Some of them will start writing immediately, but concentrate on your own exam and take the approach that works best for you.

If something goes wrong in the exam

If you arrive late or are taken ill during the exam, speak to the invigilator, who will tell you what to do. After the exam you can contact your Student Support Team for advice on what options are available to you. See the Assessment site or your Examination Arrangements booklet for details of how to report special circumstances to the Examination and Assessment board.