Food for thought - Boosting exam performance

“The key to boosting your brainpower and keeping your brain healthy is nutritious food, water and oxygen.” 


We wanted students to realise that what they eat on the day of the exams, could play a vital role in contributing to maximising exam performance. There’s no point a student revising for months and months and then not eating properly on the day of the exam. This will have a massive effect on the outcome of their exam success.”

By eating little and often you can combat the feeling.We’ve all had that sleepy feeling after a big meal.  That’s because most of your body's oxygen is being used by your stomach and digestive system to digests the food you’ve eaten. So your brain is being denied much of the oxygen it needs to function effectively and stay mentally alert.

Staying well nourished during the exam term will enhance your performance in exams.

The key to boosting your brainpower and keeping your brain healthy are nutritious food, water and oxygen. Here are some top tips.

  • Eat Little and often. Large meals will make you feel sleepy as blood and oxygen race to your stomach to digest food and therefore are not in your brain helping you concentrate. You can eat a chocolate bar or other sugary snack immediately before an exam.
  • Keep well hydrated. It is easy not to drink enough water when studying or busy but being well hydrated will help you concentrate and prevent headaches.


Fruit is important year-round, but especially during exam week. Fruits have good sugars that help keep your blood sugar elevated, as a low blood sugar level an leave you sluggish and tired, and citrus fruits such as oranges or watermelons are high in vitamin C, which helps keep you healthy. Fruits also have simple carbohydrates that can be broken down quickly by your body. Eating fruit at breakfast, when your body is craving fuel, allows you to regain the energy quickly to focus on your exams for the day.

Going bananas? Good. Fruit ranks high among the best foods you can eat for your brain. Blueberries (which can be bought frozen in bags) get a lot of attention because they contain powerful antioxidants and other nutrients. The natural sugars in fruit offer clean energy, so you don’t experience the crash that follows consumption of refined sugar.

Choose powerful vegetables. Not all vegetables are created equal. The darker the color, the higher the concentration of nutrients. For example, spinach has more to offer the mind and body than iceberg lettuce. Other great vegetable choices include bell peppers, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are beneficial at any time of the day, from cereal at breakfast to whole-wheat bread at lunch and whole-wheat pastas and brown rice at dinner. Cereal and oatmeal are typically thought of as a breakfast foods, but eating them at any time during the day can help boost your concentration and attention span. Whole grains have a low glycemic index, meaning they are digested slowly and keep you full longer, which may help improve your concentration levels and keep you focused on your studies and not your hunger.

Fish and Fresh Vegetables 

Fish and certain fresh vegetables are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been known to help in brain function, especially memory and performance, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, contains omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Mayo Clinic, and pairing the fish with dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach, will increase your fatty acid intake even more. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is especially helpful during exams.

Try to avoid serving big heavy meals. Instead of 3 large meals per day, try offering 5 mini-meals. Include a portion of protein in the main meal (e.g. fish,chicken or lean meat). Meals should include complex carbohydrates – like wholemeal bread, potatoes, pasta or rice. This will provide the energy  needed for study.

Caffeine can affect a person up to 6 hours after drinking it, so avoid tea and coffee in the late afternoon and evening. If kids crave a hot drink try offering herbal teas – there are plenty to choose from and they are available in most supermarkets.

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