What to wear to an exam

Exam season is upon us, and today’s post is the first in my weeklong series on surviving your exams with style, and as little stress as possible. Today I’m going to show you a few looks that are easy to pull together in a hurry, but still help you look put-together.

Why Dress Up for Exams?

If you go to an exam wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, you might be comfortable, but you’re not going to be in the right mind set to be very successful on your exam. However, if you have a look that is simple, yet pulled-together, you’ll feel more prepared and professional, ready to write a killer exam. A bonus: if your prof notices how well put-together you look, they may assume you are calm, cool, and collected (even if you’re not). He or she may subconsciously approach your exam with a lighter hand if they already got the feeling that you aced it before reading a word. Clothes truly have an effect on your psyche, so take some time a night or two before your exam to decide what to wear, so you can get dressed quickly in the morning but still look chic.

Basic Tips:

Remember to consider what the weather will be like (check advanced weather reports online), and what building you’re writing your exam in (is there a/c? is it usually very hot?). Make sure to choose comfortable shoes, like flats, so that you can focus on your exam instead on the ache in your ankle. Also, go easy on the accessories: nobody wants to listen to your bangles clank together for the entirety of a three-hour exam.

Outfit #1: Comfortable Chic

For this outfit, I paired a simple cardigan-jeans outfit with a fun spring tank and bright accessories. It is a simple outfit that wouldn’t take long to put together, but it still looks like you made an effort. Plus the bright colours will make you look more awake and alert when trying to hide those crammed-til-2-am bags under your eyes.

jeans: Hollister, cardigan: Old Navy, tank: Forever21, belt: Urban Outfitters, Converse: Delias, bag: Walmart

Outfit #2: Brainy Beauty

I chose this outfit because it’s fun, very Spring, and even trendy by picking up on the nautical theme. But, just like the previous outfit, it’s simple to throw on and comfortable to sit in for hours on end. Plus, the summery style will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

dress: Abercrombie & Fitch, sweater: Banana Republic, sandals: Charlotte Russe, headband: Delia’s, bag: Alloy

What Do You Think?

What do you wear to exams? Are you usually in sweatpants and UGGs? Will you try dressing up this year? Leave a comment and let me know. And don’t forget to check back later this week for more exam-related posts, from exam-morning makeup, to a no-brainer breakfast recipe.

Fashion School


  1. avatar Shaylah LaFavor says:

    I absolutely love this idea and many other do too! But, (I am saying this in the nicest way possible) I wore a very similar outfit that you have stated there, but it was so uncomfortable to sit hours doing an exam in a dress. Personally like sweatpants and a sweatshirt so I’ll be more comfy and prepared. But that is my personal opinion and you have a different one and that’s okay. I was just thinking to share my thought! Have a nice day!

  2. avatar avery says:

    hi, i have to take my 8th grade staar test (state test) tomorrow. I feel like i would be more comfortable wearing a baggy t-shirt and adidas sweatpants, but yall do make some good points. this test determines if i go to high school or not and im not very smart so i would like to do everything in my power in order to at least pass. any suggestions??

  3. avatar shine says:

    this article was great..dressind does boost ur confidence…….but in realty…..who has got the time to get dressed up on xam day?….seriously?that precious time cud be used to revise uber precious text book pages or notes…..
    n about profs….those who grade upon ur dressing…..r not in fit state of their mind….any sane,rational ,true to his profession”professor”wouldnt do that…..

  4. avatar Lindsey says:

    This is very helpful!! Thanks!(:

  5. avatar alia says:

    in my small town.like udaipur if i wear this oufits to.my colg people will look.at me as if m an alian yet these are so cute but plzzz can u suggest me some sobor outfits for winter like i can wear in dis small town

  6. avatar kburns421 says:

    I’ve never actually given thought to dressing for exams, but you made a great point about how the professor might notice and grade you easier. People often think that nothing like that happens, but, when a test is subjective (like an essay), professors are going to give better grades to those who they like or who always seem prepared and on top of things, even if they do so subconsciously. Great advice!

  7. avatar Kristinuh says:

    This is a great post, but I think for the first outfit I’d swap the jeans for leggings or even yoga pants. That way, you still look put together, but aren’t constrained by the jeans :)

  8. avatar Amber F says:

    I personally love this! Ever since I was in middle school, if I knew I had an exam or something important like a spelling or geography bee, I would always dress up a lil. Not enough to where I was uncomfortable, but I’d put on a nice top and pull my hair back. It gave me confidence, and it gave off the impression that I was confident to anyone around, even if I was the furthest thing from it! :)

  9. avatar Man eater 57 says:

    Hello girlies, I have to agree with y’all. This is soo good and useful.
    Although my professor doesn’t grade my papers and they go to an external body, I always like to give him something to look at ;)

    I would just like all your opinions on what I wear: A white, low cut tank top with a bright orange bra. I also sometimes wear a corset, to show off my curves, but it sometimes restricts my breathing. Should I do this, I want to exsentuate my figure and feel confident, so is my oxygen really that important?

    I have found this very useful, I hope you can get back to me soon :)
    PS. learn to spell.

    Love y’all xox

  10. Kaleigh, don’t worry. Kilgore Trout is an INTP (personality type).* We don’t set much store by clothes and we do set a lot of store by intelligence, truth and education. We also have a reputation for being pretty cold with people. And INTPs are actually a very small portion of the population (1%). Not that nobody else values truth and stuff, but hey.

    As an INTP myself, I’m guessing KT was talking about the “your professor will grade you better” bit. That is kinda pathetic. It seems pretty unlikely that your prof is going to remember what you were wearing when s/he has to grade a bajillion tests, no? I hope not. If he does, you weren’t wearing something that looks professional.

    I think there is use in paying attention to what you’re wearing, but isn’t this a little, you know, common-sense-ish? I guess most people put more thought into this than I do (“Jeans… these are relatively clean. Shirt. Trenchcoat. Done.”)

    *…hangs around a forum dedicated to MBTI typology

  11. avatar Suanay Hernandez says:

    You guys, if you don’t like the post, then don’t read them. There’s no point in hating on it, the whole point of this post is to look cute & comfortable in an exam. Some professors do base on how you look, some don’t. But it doesn’t hurt to look professional to an exam, & still be cute & comfortable.

  12. avatar Nurul says:

    Love this post. I’ve always had a “look good, feel good, do well” policy when it comes to exams and tests and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  13. avatar irma says:

    i like your post here. .and I do like your site. . hopefully you can help me find outfit for me. . I am not that kind of a Girl or teens that all they wear are looks so nice for them..:(

  14. avatar Aslinn says:

    Ok, so I’m only 13 but I still have exams I no this is for the ” collage girl but do you think you could help a girl out… I don’t no how to look good & be comfortable. And, I’m not realy the type of grl who would wear those cloths( and I don’t have any thing that remotly looks like them) So, not even the web site have to do it… One of the readers could help me just some one… Much apresheated!!!!

  15. avatar leyla_h says:

    Hi, I think this post is great- I’m a strong believer in dressing right makes you feel good and so perform better. I’m sure that this mind-set has got me a lot of jobs and placements. I love look two. Tomorrow I have the first of my finals and I’ll be wearing a cute little blue elasticated waist skirt with leggings, a black tank and a cardigan I can take off if it gets warm. Always plan and lay out your outfit and accessories the night before – that way you can just get dressed and concentrate on the exam ahead :)

  16. avatar SW says:

    In case you didn’t realize, most professors don’t grade the test. At our university we have student and graduate graders for all of our classes. No point in impressing the professor on test day with your outfit.

  17. avatar Jessica says:

    I always put a little bit of extra effort into my appearance (clothes, hair, make-up) on exam days. It doesn’t make me any smarter or replace any of the studying I had to do, but it does give me an extra boost of confidence. Confidence kills stress and nerves.

    I love love love this post! Definitely keep up what you’re doing. :)

  18. avatar jessica says:

    totally unoriginal. disgrace to fashion bloggers.

  19. avatar Tsu Tsu says:

    I would totally wear the second outfit! rlly cute, I love the sandals, looking for a simlar pair for summer

  20. avatar Kaleigh says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the post, Kilgore.

    I, and many of my readers, believe that our clothes are a way to represent ourselves to the world. So, in important life situations, such as job interviews, first dates, and yes, exams, what you wear can leave a lasting impression on those around you, and affect your own psyche as well. Why not try changing up what you wear this exam season and test out my theory? You might be surprised!

    • avatar Holly Symosky says:

      I’m a Pre-Med major and a representative from a local medical school came into my class to talk about their school. One of her slides said that there was a dress code and when another student asked, she said it has been psychologically tested that if you dress more professional, you are more confident, and more likely to succeed.

  21. avatar Kilgore Trout says:

    Man, this is the most terrible garbage I have ever read. Is this what ‘higher education’ has been reduced to?

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