We all know the stress of a college exam is immense and can be very overwhelming at times. Here are some tips on how to mentally prepare for an exam.


Sleep is critical. Most college students should have between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, but we are the most sleep-deprived population. Late night cramming has been proven to not help you retain information and can make you do poorly on an exam. Going to bed early the night before an exam is the best option!


Exercise is a necessary part of being mentally prepared for an exam. Exercise gives you energy and helps lower cortisol levels, which lowers your stress level. Exercise can also help to get out any nervous energy and can be a perfect study break.


When we all think of meditation, we typically think of yoga and its weird music, but meditation can be a bunch of different things. Lying with your eyes closed with or without music and just breathing is a great thing to do before your exam. It gives you a time to decompress and relax before your exam.

Dance it out

Meredith Grey and Christina Yang were definitely on to something! Dancing it out is a great thing to do right before you go to your exam. Turn on music in your room and just dance out all the stress and nervous energy. This will not only help you wake up if you have a late night exam, but can also get out all the extra test jitters.

Visualize getting a good grade

Visualization is a powerful tool. If you think you are going to do well and you have prepared well, likelihood is that you will do well. Visualization of getting a good grade will help give you confidence going into the exam and can help you do better in the end.

Power Pose

Power Posing is a scientifically proven way to lower stress and help brain function. If you stand in front of a mirror for two minutes doing a power pose (hands on hips), your cortisol levels will lower and your testosterone levels will get higher. Cortisol is the stress hormone in the body, so lowering this will lower your stress and help you think better. Raising your testosterone levels will help give you confidence and will help you do and feel better during the exam.

Eat proper food

Eating food with proper nutrition is critical for doing well mentally. Students who skip breakfast experience a 20-40% reduction in cognitive function. Also, although many of us tend to stress eat chips and candy, don’t do it. Give yourself healthy and nutritious foods, especially right before your exam.

Talk it out



Just breathing can be one of the best things you can do right before an exam. Breathing slowly and deeply will help you calm yourself and also give you something to focus on as you wait to take the exam.

Avoid stressed or negative classmates

If you are aware, you will notice that people have the tendency right before an exam to say, “I’m going to fail.” If you hear this, even from you best friend, walk away. Being around a negative or stressed person will only make you stress more and not do as well on the exam. Reassure yourself and don’t fall into the game of saying you’re going to fail.

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Catherine Ellsworth

Catherine is originally from Connecticut. She is now studying engineering at Purdue University. She is interested in all things Purdue, fashion and writing.

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