Eat Your Way to Success

Eat Your Way to Success

You really need to feed your brain if you want exam success. PQ magazine editor Graham Hambly looks at what advice is out there for the exam-weary student…

It’s the day of your exam assessment. You have put in the hours of study and even planned your journey to the exam centre. There is just one more thing to do before you leave the house – eat breakfast! Or are you planning to skip it today because you are too nervous?

Well don’t – it really is the most important meal of the day, so check out the five ideal exam-day breakfasts below. I would add simple porridge to that list, with a cut-up banana on top. That’s porridge that you make yourself, not a one you put in the microwave.

My big tip to all accountancy students creaking under the stress of the exam process is to use food, and its preparation, as a release, even your treat to yourself.

There is tonnes evidence out there that what you eat and drink can really affect your exam performance. We are definitely not talking Red Bull here – all sugar and caffeine highs are banned! Other no-no’s are biscuits, crisps, chocolate and muffins. They take too much time and energy to digest. Reducing your coffee intake and cutting down on alcohol during the revision phrase will all help improve your wellbeing, too.

Replace these treats with carrot sticks, almonds and a nicely cut-up apple. If you can’t live without chocolate then make sure its dark chocolate, as the serotonin in it has been linked to maintaining mood balance.

Water is also another key to success and you must stay hydrated. That means drinking at least 1.2 litres a day. You should also be taking a bottle of water into the exam room, too.

Skipping meals can be a real problem for many. You may feel you have too much study to do to take a break, but you are in real danger of burning yourself out if you don’t provide your brain with the energy it needs to work!

There is also a danger that time pressure means more takeaways. If you feel you have to get on the phone, then again try to make good choices. Egg yolks contain Lutein, which helps to improve memory, so order some egg fried rice or a Florentine pizza. Spinach on your pizza is a good shout. And, if it must be pizza, then the olive, capers and anchovies on a Neapolitan will help increase your cognitive functions.

Protein is another key brain booster. We are talking oil-rich fish, nuts and seeds here. Even fish fingers are ok, especially those with added Omega-3.

Remember, you can’t eat too much fruit and veg. The fibre in apples, pears and raspberries slows down digestion and so helps slower energy release into the body.

Having good food habits will help to keep you well. It also helps you sleep better too – no one who is tired does well on exam day. However, that meal should be eaten about three hours before you plan to sleep. A warm milk or hot chocolate may also help you sleep better.

So happy eating and good luck if you are sitting exams soon.


Check out the BBC list of five exam-day/revision day breakfasts at

* Boiled egg with rye bread solders.

* Crunchy banana yoghurt.

* Overnight muesli with apple and nuts.

* Scrambled egg and toast with smoked salmon.

* Blackberry and apple crumble smoothie.


These BBC recipes, we are told, contain slow-release carbohydrates such as whole rolled porridge oats and whole grain bread, with high-protein foods such as milk, yoghurt and eggs.

Editor of PQ Magazine

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