Exams can be extremely stressful. Some teachers place a great emphasis on them, making them a large part of your grade. That alone is enough cause a student unnecessary stress. Certain foods and relaxation techniques can boost your brain power and help you do your best on exam day.
- Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that send messages from neuron to neuron. These chemicals are crucial for proper brain function. Amino acids, found in protein foods, create neurotransmitters. There are three main neurotransmitters, which are acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. Foods rich in acetylcholine include peanuts, egg yolks, liver, meat, fish, wheat germ, cheese, milk and vegetables. Dopamine rich foods include meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, beans and soy products. Foods that contain large amounts of serotonin are carbohydrate based, such as starchy vegetables, pasta, cereals, potatoes and breads.
- Eating carbohydrates increases the levels of serotonin in your brain. When your serotonin levels are high, you feel calmer and more relaxed, which is important if you're taking an exam. Carbohydrates are also beneficial because they turn to glucose when digested. Glucose, or sugar, is the brain's main source of energy. Vegetables, fruits and grains are all high in carbohydrates and will help your brain's performance during an exam. Proteins are also important, because they help to improve mental performance. They are essential to the function, structure and regulation of the body's organs and tissues---including the brain. Protein rich foods include fish, meat, milk and cheese. Fats regulate blood circulation, mood, memory and the immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids are an excellent way to boost your brain power. If your Omega 3 fatty acid level is low, you can suffer from learning disabilities, low IQ, dyslexia, poor memory or ADD---all of which are detrimental to someone who is taking an exam.
- Vitamins and minerals are essential for your overall health, including the functioning and growth of your brain. Vitamin B is one of the most important vitamins for your brain. Foods that are high in Vitamin B include whole-grain products, red meat, green leafy vegetables, sweet corn, brown rice, yeast, berries, peas, butter, soybeans and poultry. Magnesium, manganese, sodium, potassium and calcium are all important minerals for your brain.
- It takes more than food to ace an exam. You must be fully prepared for the test, both mentally and physically. Organize your study materials so they are easy for you to find when you need them. Create a study plan, and make sure to budget your time wisely. Break up your studying into small sessions so you don't feel overwhelmed. Make notes and flashcards to help you memorize the material. If you have a classmate who wants to study with you, you can both use the flashcards to quiz each other. Avoid staying up late, trying to fit in an extra cram session. You need to be relaxed on the day of the exam, not exhausted. One of the most important things to remember is to have a positive attitude. If you go into the exam expecting to do poorly, you won't try as hard as you normally would if you were optimistic.