What To Do On Exam Day

On exam day, students' temperaments can range from being completely calm to being an all out flappy bird.  I have known and heard of candidates who have forgotten their exam book, missed their exam because of traffic, used a coin/their fingers instead a pick, and even forgotten their guitar believe it or not.  So, I thought it might be a good idea to make a systematic approach for what to do on exam day and in doing so you may even be called a cucumber you are so cool.



If your exam is in the morning, get up in time for you to eat a small but sensible breakfast, you will need the energy and don't really want your stomach making noises when you're not playing.  Don't gorge yourself either, you will probably feel sick!



I have attached a checklist for both guitarists and drummers of things to remember for you to download and tick off as you get ready. Some other useful things to remember are, gloves/scarf (if it is a cold day you don't want your hands to be frozen when you get to the exam centre) and a bottle of water to drink.  When I buy a few picks, I tend to leave a couple in the car, a couple in my wallet, laptop case, guitar case etc so I am never without one.  Don't just take one, if you lose it on the way then you're in trouble. 

They would normally have an amp at the centre.  Don't forget your exam book, even if you know everything by memory as some exam boards will sign your exam book so they know you have bought it legitimately.



Warm up your fingers before you leave by doing a few scales or spider exercises if you're a guitarist.  For drummers, take a little time to stretch and go through some simple rudiments to start.  Play them SLOWLY!  All you need to do here is get your co-ordination going and the blood flowing in your fingers.  This is a warm up, not a practise session.




Leave plenty of time to get there. Some exam boards want you to arrive 15 minutes before your exam, others a bit longer and make sure you allow for traffic and parking.  You really don't need to be stressed out about getting there on time. And make sure you know where the exam venue is!




On arrival you will most likely be taken to a 'warm up' room.  Tune up your guitar and get your fx pedals ready if you are using them, or organise your kit if you're a drummer.  The examiner has an incredibly tight schedule to keep to and the last thing he/she wants is to wait 5 minutes for you to set up your instrument in the exam room.  Once you're happy with your set up, continue to warm up.



The examiner will come to collect you when he/she is ready.  Even if you are a nervous, be polite and say hello.  They are not monsters!  After the exam collect your equipment as quickly as you can, thank the examiner and reward yourself with a burger.

As a final note, if you are someone who struggles with nerves, check out my post on how to beat stage fright.

Best of luck!

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