What’s shaking? As you all know, I just finished my first block exams this past Monday (which went really good by the way) and while I prepped for the exams and even during the exam day, I kept thinking of ways I could have done better or just things I could have done to make the experience more pleasant. Just so you know, my school makes us take all our exams in one day because most medical licensing exams last at least four hours long (the US exam is actually 8 hours long) so the school is working to get us acclimatized to long stretches of brain work and it’s working!

Anyway, on to the tips, but first a disclaimer: These tips are just my opinion and may not work so great for everyone.


Before the exam

Do practice questions to understand what the likely pattern of questions will be. When you do practice questions:

  • give praise for good scores.
  • practice decisiveness. Even when you’re stuck between two options, try to pick ONE.

Get at least 5 hours of sleep. I work much better when I’ve gotten sleep, especially when I’ll be taking exams for over 4 hours. But, if it’s just one paper, you could get less sleep and just power through, still I think sleep helps you win at life.

Eat a breakfast of slow burning carbs! Slow burners make sure your sugar levels do not fluctuate too much during the day. Your sugar level goes down slowly at quite a regular pace and you honestly will not be hungry till its lunch time! Slow burning carbs include oat meal (plus milk), potatoes, eggs, wheat bread and nuts. White rice and corn flakes are fast carbs and leave  me you feeling hungry again in barely an hour.

PEE! During my first paper, I had to pee so bad! Thank God it did not take too long to finish. You should also do number two too, if anxiety gives you diarrhea.

During the exam

Stay in the zone: If your mind is prone to wandering, this is not the time! Stay focused and make sure you are 100% paying attention to the words on the paper. Lack of attention could make you mark the wrong options even when you know the right answer and we don’t want that.

Read questions carefully and give every option the benefit of the doubt if it’s a multiple choice exam especially when you’re unsure of the answer. However, do not over-think! Statistics show that the first answer you pick is usually right unless you’re a good second guesser.

Stay aware of timing: do not waste too much time on one question and definitely do not rush. Balance is key.

-Remain calm even if you look at the paper and don’t seem to know much. Re-group and focus. Keep it together. If you’ve studied, you’ll remember.

Leave when you have finished. And by finished, I mean, answered all questions (unless its negative marking, still) and I usually like to revise to make sure I marked the options I’d originally decided upon. I also occasionally discover mistakes during this check. But after you have finished, leave the hall. This prevents over-thinking and unnecessary changing of options.

That’s all from me guys! I hope you find these tips useful the next time you take an exam!

Till soon, Afoma x