Exams: Foods that help you focus and study revealed

21 May 2019
By Tom S., Student at Sheffield Hallam University

During my A Levels, sometimes I would be so engrossed in revision I’d just forget to eat. Perfect solution, right? Less time spent eating means more time for that precious, last-minute cramming.

Unsurprisingly, it was a terrible method. I didn’t get the grades I wanted and couldn’t really remember much of the stuff I’d spent hours revising. Making sure you eat healthy, nutritious food is always important, but especially so during exam season.

Food provides vital vitamins to keep you fit and healthy, but it also gives you the energy to to study and pass those exams.

Here are some foods to keep you on track throughout exam season.

You should always start the day with a hearty breakfast. Porridge or Weetabix is really good for filling you up and ensuring it’s not your stomach grumbling midway through the exam.

Eggs are also a good brain food. They contain vitamin B12 – which converts glucose into energy – and a nutrient called choline, which is linked to good memory. An omelette or poached eggs on toast are two of my pre-exam favourites. You can also get your B12 kick from cottage and feta cheese, as well as sardines.

Energy drinks are a big no-no. Too much caffeine means you can’t focus properly and, if you become dependent on Red Bull to stay awake, you’ll end up feeling more tired in the long run. Drink tea or coffee instead. I got really into green tea during A Levels. It’s a great alternative to high-caffeine drinks but still boosts your concentration, and it’s packed with antioxidants too.

Bananas and chocolate are fantastic sources of energy as well. I always have a banana and a bar of Dairy Milk before an exam, just through superstition if nothing else! But dark chocolate is better for you during exam time as it contains flavonols, which help increase blood flow to the brain.

Avocados can be beneficial during intense study. They do have a high fat content but they also contain vitamin K, which has been linked to improved brain function. Try them in a smoothie, which you could drink while you revise or before your exam. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are also good.

Nuts are perfect to snack on while you study. They’re full of vitamins and minerals that help your brain function better, and are really tasty too. They can be quite expensive, but Poundland have a whole selection of nuts which you can get much cheaper than at other supermarkets, and they’re just as good.

On the day of the exam, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take food or drinks other than water into your exams, but make sure you take a label-less bottle of water in with you. Staying hydrated is the key to unlocking those answers.

If you can include some of these foods in a healthy, balanced diet during your exams, you’ll be well on the way to getting the grades you want. In addition to eating well, make sure you get plenty of sleep, and don’t over-work yourself – maintaining a healthy social life is just as important as revision.

Good luck!

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Tom is a Geography student at Sheffield Hallam, and is currently on a placement year.