How to Stay Calm the Night Before the Big Day - Feature
4 Nov 2019

SPM Survival Tips: How to Stay Calm the Night Before the Big Day

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It’s the final 24 hours before SPM Day and oh boy, your stress levels are at an ultimate high and you’re fraught with nerves.

Breathe in, breathe out.

You’ve got this, don’t worry. If you’re wondering how to stay calm the night before SPM Day, we’re here to help with our 7 useful tips.

#1. Relax, take it easy

How to stay calm before SPM - 1 Relax, take it easy
Having butterflies in your stomach, breaking out in a cold sweat, jumping a mile when someone tries to get your attention… it’s normal to be a bundle of nerves the night before SPM. However, it’s important to learn how to relax.

Try some breathing exercises to stay calm — a short 10-minute session of deep breathing can do wonders for your frazzled nerves! Download free apps that will guide you through some simple exercises or search ‘guided meditation‘ on YouTube.

So, keep calm and carry on. The exam will only test you on the material you’ve been taught, so there’s nothing to fear.

#2. Eat, drink and be merry

How to stay calm before SPM - 2 Eat, drink and be merry
You’d better believe it — a good diet can stub out anxiety. Research shows that a balanced diet, drinking enough water and limiting or avoiding caffeine can help relieve anxiety. How does it work? Complex carbohydrates are metabolised more slowly to maintain blood sugar levels, which makes you feel calm.

To beat the blustering blues the night before SPM, stay hydrated with plenty of water and eat foods rich in antioxidants. Some anxiety-soothers include green leafy vegetables, avocados, turkey breast, yoghurt and oatmeal. Looking for more brain food to boost your last study session before exams begin? Dish up on salmon, berries and egg yolks.

#3. Write a list

How to stay calm before SPM - 3 Write a list
After hitting the books for months, the night before SPM is finally here. Instead of continuing your long hard slog, put your textbooks and notes away and get a blank notebook instead — it’s time to summarise what you’ve learnt (and still need to read up on).

List down the topics you have yet to cover or those that you would like to go through in more depth. This helps to reduce your workload into bite-sized chunks so you aren’t overwhelmed.

Go through your checklist with a fine tooth comb and arrange tasks by importance. It helps to assign time estimates too, which will help you prioritise better and show you how realistic your revision plans are. Plus, there’s nothing better than ticking off an item on your checklist!

#4. It’s time to rely on your memory

How to stay calm before SPM - 4 It’s time to rely on your memory
It’s the night before the big, scary SPM exams; now is not the time to re-read your textbooks!

Try reviewing what you have studied from memory, a method called retrieval practice.

For example:

  • Identify the examinable chapters
  • List down the main concepts within each chapter
  • Elaborate the main concepts in point form
  • Look through your notes to see if you have missed out on anything

To strengthen your knowledge retainment, turn these notes into a handy summary sheet you can review in the morning.

If you’re all flustered and can’t hold a pen without shaking, ask a friend or family member to test you on key points, formulas and definitions, and even skim through questions to see if there is something you aren’t familiar with. Don’t worry if you realise you left out a chapter or two! There’s still time for you to re-learn what you’ve forgotten.

#5. Get packing

How to stay calm before SPM - 5 Get packing
You can’t risk going into the exam hall with pens that have run out of ink or blunt pencils, so pack your bag with everything you need for the big day.

Here’s a quick list for you to check off:

  • Stationery (pens, pencils, a ruler, a pencil sharpener and an eraser)
  • Water bottle
  • Watch or a small clock
  • Exam-specific material (e.g. non-programmable calculator, geometric kit)
Pro Tip: Since Sejarah Paper 3 is an open book exam, remember to pack your Form 4 and Form 5 history textbooks into your school bag before sleeping.

#6. Get a good night’s sleep

How to stay calm before SPM - 6 Get a good night’s sleep
While it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter to cram as much as you can before SPM Day, it’s best to head to bed and catch some Zs.

A recent study demonstrated that a person’s cognitive performance significantly declines after less than 6 hours of sleep. The results also showed that the subject’s performance deteriorated by 4 times when they had multiple nights of insufficient sleep!

Experiencing burnout and lethargy is the last thing you want before SPM exam day, so zap that all-nighter and sleep — your refreshed and ready-to-go mind the next morning will thank you.

#7. Bring out the alarm clocks

How to stay calm before SPM - 7 Bring out the alarm clocks
If you think the horror of missing class is bad enough, wait until you realise you’re about to rush in late to the biggest exam of your 17-year-old life.

Set at least 5 alarms on your phone and ask your parents to check that you’re out of bed on time in the morning. Should you be a serial alarm-snoozer, bring in the big guns and buy physical alarm clocks, as well as getting the help of your friends to give you a wake-up call.

Still anxious about SPM exam day? Don’t worry, just remember to remain focused and do your best to prepare for it. Come morning, remember to keep calm, trust yourself and give it your best shot!

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