The role of proper nutrition when sitting an exam

Next to engaging reliable academic support such as SAT tutoring in London to improve test scores, is paying attention to the nutritional fuel a student relies on. Much is expected of the brain in terms of performance, particularly so when it comes to exam time. Yet, not many students think about feeding the brain with the right type of foods that maximize function. According to a dietician at St Andrews University Student Services, for optimal brain function to take place, the organ requires quality high energy foods to sustain concentration, improve memory and cope with stress and anxiety.

Another challenge that can impede a student’s academic performance during exam time is time management, which can make it difficult to practice healthy eating habits (eating nutritionally wholesome foods and avoiding skipping meals). One study conducted by a UK university drew a link between reduced academic performance and skipping breakfast. The research study consisted of 294 students attending schools and colleges who were asked about their breakfast habits. Of the study group, 29 per cent admitted to either having breakfast on the odd occasion or never during the school week. Those who neglected feeding their brains in the morning were found to obtain two grades lower than the students who had breakfast regularly. This goes to show that skipping breakfast presents a barrier to learning.

Types of proven brain-boosting foods


Students are often advised to increase their consumption of foods high in protein such as those below.

  • Oily fish varieties
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Pulses and beans

Other foods that cover a wide variety of vitamins and minerals include eggs, whole grains, vegetables (especially the greens) and fruit.

In addition to eating proper meals, taking vitamin supplements can also help in ensuring students get all the vitamins and minerals that they need in the right amounts. It is a known fact that due to various reasons, the way modern food is manufactured or processed, vitamins and minerals in these foods are relatively lower in quantity than they used to be. To counter any nutritional deficiencies, it is a good idea to look into finding sources of iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, zinc and calcium in supplement form.

Just as important as it is to increase the intake of those foods that have a positive effect on the brain, so too, it is just as important to know what  types of foods to avoid. It may be easier and tempting to rely on sugary snacks instead of a proper meal with the right nutritional value. This approach is not advised, as the benefits of the energy derived from the sugar rush are only short lived. This diet is also ill advised as it is known to adversely affect cognitive function.

Exam performance is naturally a top concern for students and parents. It is a worthy endeavour to look into every step that will give the student an edge, from lifestyle habits to professional academic support. To find the right tutor with vast experience in SAT tutoring is, of course, a priority, however ignore the value of good dietary habits at your peril.

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