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Student Stories: the final countdown

07/09/16 15:10 / by Tom Grace

Tom Grace

Student Stories

Frantic study, mini mocks, brain straining to retain every detail, a little more study... Yep, that’s me a couple of days before the exam.

As I try to keep everything on track with the day job and with so much going through my mind before entering the exam hall, my thought process isn’t always the clearest.  Let’s face it, as a man multi-tasking may not be my thing, so I‘ve put together a quick checklist to avoid turning up at the exam hall and having a panic over something vital that I’ve forgotten. 


The essentials

    • Exam permit. None of us are getting into the exam hall without this so make sure you have it sorted. Someone that I work with advised me before my first exam to print three copies – one to stick on the fridge, one to leave in the car and one for your handbag. Well, the handbag is out for me but she was right about the extra copies, it covers even the most forgetful.
    • To download and print your permit, log into the Member Area of
The Insurance Institute's website
    , select ‘Exams & Results’ in the left sidebar and then click the print button beside your module name.
  • Photo ID with printed name and signature. Your passport, driving licence or even Insurance Institute membership card (with photo only!) will do the trick. This goes hand in hand with the exam permit, so we risk being denied admission to the exam hall if we don’t have it.
  • Calculator. The guidelines say no programmable or text storing calculators so just a basic, run of the mill version required.
  • Pencils/Pens. If, like me, you’re doing an MCQ exam, you have to fill out your answer sheet in pencil so make sure to bring two HB pencils, an eraser and a sharpener. For all of you doing written exams ensure you have a number of pens in working order.

Further important information about your exam can be found in the Exam Information and Exam Regulations sections of The Insurance Institute's website.

What else?

  • Getting there. Check and double check the time and location of your exam, I’m heading to Shelbourne Hall in the RDS this time around. Whether you’re walking, driving or taking public transport make sure you arrive 30 minutes beforehand to avoid any disasters.
  • Food. Feeling hungry during an exam doesn’t help. Even if my stomach is in knots I always try to make sure I have something to eat. If you can’t handle a full fry up maybe a smoothie or a banana will do the trick.
  • Water. Bring a bottle into the exam hall with you. For me it helps to calm the nerves, while some believe information runs more freely between brain cells when they are well hydrated.  Either way I think it’s worth having it there.
  • The exam. Keep calm and positive, that’s what I keep telling myself. Listen to the invigilator at the start and take time to read the exam paper and questions thoroughly. Once you’ve started, focus on yourself and don’t get distracted by others.
  • Relax. Give yourself a chance to unwind when you’re done. Even if, like me, it’s a quick coffee before you jump on the train, take some time to get out of exam mode and back to normality

That just about covers it. All that’s left for me to do is to wish us all the best of luck and I’ll leave you with this anonymous quote...

'The best way to finish an unpleasant task is to get started’.