When you first see your exam timetable, what are the details you first look for? The dates? The break between each exam? Which subject comes first?

Those are all important factors, but there’s one detail often ignored: the actual time of the examination.


How you can use the time to your advantage

Now, the time of your exam is very obviously important for logistical reasons - you need to get to your exam on time. But it can also be an important factor when you’re working out your exam preparation.

If you have an exam from 5pm until 7.30pm, for example, it might be a good idea to do some study for that subject through those times in the weeks prior. If you’ve only ever studied for the subject in the morning, then how can you expect to walk into the exam room in the evening and perform at your best?

Exam study is really all about preparation, and preparation is more holistic than just revising the content that will be on the exam. You also want to prepare yourself for the examination experience, which includes details like the time of day.

"Exam study is really all about preparation..."


Simulating the exam experience

By studying at the actual time of your exam, you’re preparing yourself for exam day. But if you really want to simulate the experience as well as you can, there are other factors to consider.

If you usually study with music, for example, try studying for a bit without music in the lead-up to exams - after all, you won’t be able to take your headphones into the exam room.

If your exam is hand-written, make sure you have experience physically writing for a couple of hours at a time. It’s all well and good to have typed notes and practice solutions, but that will only get you so far if you have to write by hand on exam day.

If you have practice questions or exams available, completing them under timed conditions can also be useful. Even if you know the entire unit of content very thoroughly, exams usually ask you to demonstrate your knowledge within time constraints. This is a skill that should be practised.

"... exams usually ask you to demonstrate your knowledge within time constraints."


Putting your plan into action

The first step, of course, is consulting your exam timetable as soon as it’s available. Make sure you’re clear on when (and where!) your exams will be, but also pay special attention to the time of day. If you do this at least a few weeks out from your exams, you can set up your study accordingly.

You might like to block out some times in your calendar to focus on each subject at the relevant time. If you can access the exam venue in advance, you might even consider studying there to become even more familiar.


At the end of the day, not all study is equal, and if you can familiarise yourself with exam day conditions, you’re one step closer to success!