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What to eat during exam time



Whether you’re revising for GCSEs, A Levels or other exams, it’s important to fuel your body properly. It can be difficult to remember to have regular, nutritious meals when you’re focused on your revision or worrying about your exams, but eating and staying hydrated can do the power of good.

We spoke to Dr Fandi Ibrahim, Associate Professor on our Nutrition and Human Health course, for his advice on which foods give you more energy and what to avoid when you’re preparing for exams.

Fandi says, “My ultimate advice is that you study hard all the way through the year to minimise, or even eliminate, the stress during the exam time. You can also still find time to relax for a moment by managing your resources and prioritising study time.

Maintaining a healthy diet is an important factor for stress management, along with sufficient sleep (7-8 hours).”

Get enough protein and nutrients

Fandi says, “You need an adequate intake of good quality protein (e.g. eggs, plain yoghurt, lean meat, fish or soy protein if you are vegan).

Fish, oily seeds, and nuts are also good sources of long chain fatty acids, which are important for various immunological and neurological functions.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and starchy food will help you keep active (e.g. potatoes and sweet potatoes).”

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Hands up if you’ve ever heard this one from your parents/teachers! They are right, though. Breakfast fuels your body and gets you ready for the day ahead. It gives you energy, helps you to focus and improves your concentration levels.

Not sure what to have? Fandi recommends cereals (unless you are gluten intolerant) as they provide slow release fuel for your brain. Opt for porridge, bran flakes, muesli, shredded whole wheat or Weetabix to make sure you’re getting your energy levels topped up.

If you want to add some toppings, opt for fruit rather than sugar/chocolate and keep an eye on ingredients as some cereals may include added sugar, such as sweetened dried fruit or chocolate.

Gluten intolerant? Look for quinoa or buckwheat based breakfast choices.

Stay hydrated

If you’re dehydrated, you’ll be feeling tired, lacking energy and could even end up suffering with headaches, which is not what you need for an exam! The question is, what should you be drinking during revision and exam time?

Fandi says, “All fluids count, except those with added sugars. Try to avoid or minimise alcohol and caffeine intake, especially after 4pm, to lower stress and minimise sleep disruption.”

So step away from the energy drinks!


It’s important to make sure you have three, proper meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner. A packet of crisps doesn’t count as lunch and won’t give your mind or body the energy it needs to get through revision and exams. Make sure you’re eating properly and not skipping meals, your body needs it.

If you’re a snacker, it’s okay to snack throughout the day too. As Dr Fandi Ibrahim has already mentioned, fruit, vegetables and protein are great choices to top up your energy levels. Maybe try some fruit and plain yoghurt, carrot sticks, a handful of nuts or some scrambled eggs to refuel.

Good luck for your exams! If you need more advice about applying to university, feel free to contact us on social media, take a look around our website or have a chat with our lovely admissions team.

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