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Exams are just around the corner, which means anything that will somehow improve your chances of getting a good grade will soon come into play. Students are usually stressed before exams and are unable to maintain their mental health. Instead of rereading your textbook, reread our scientific advice - it's more effective than a cheat sheet, a teacher's charm and a prayer for a lucky number in the classroom.
The temptation to sit behind a notebook all night is great, of course, but science urges you to go to sleep. It is during sleep that the information learned the night before is reinforced. In rats, scientists showed that during slow-motion sleep, the same groups of neurons that the rats were learning the night before are turned on in the brain. That is, the best way to memorize Aristotle's aphorisms is to act like a rat - go to bed early. Your brain will go over everything you heard about the philosopher in your sleep and then guide you to success in the exam. American scientists did experiments on students, not rats, and confirmed that staying up all night working on assignments was a bad idea. Side-effects of a sleepless night include delayed reaction time and a tendency to blunder everywhere.The most effective strategy is to read a difficult section just before bedtime and then go to bed before midnight in the hope that your brain will not confuse what should be transferred to long-term memory - a Facebook feed or pages of lectures you have read.
Food for thought
- For breakfast before an exam, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine suggest scrambled eggs. That's because eggs are rich in choline, a B vitamin. Choline, according to research, improves memory and slows brain aging. And it is brain aging that prevents successful test answers.
- The American Academy of Food and Nutrition Sciences grieves when you give up oatmeal. Whole-grain cereals contain slow carbohydrates and healthy micronutrients and give your brain the energy it needs to make it through the exam.
- Sprinkle curry spice liberally over what you have on the table.
- The smell of turmeric on the table can overpower the smell of mint. Peppermint improves concentration, so a couple of leaves can be stuck in your buttonhole in the hope that it will impress your teacher.
- If you're going to shine in your mental faculties, you can't do without omega-3 fatty acids. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition, published some years ago, reported that college students who did not neglect walnuts showed better reasoning ability than their peers who did not get any. Even richer than nuts in Omega-3 fish: salmon and tuna. Before an exam, a few capsules of fish oil are sure to grace your meal.
- All of the above ingredients should be chugged down with water. Firstly, students who drink water before the exam pass it 10% better than their dehydrated friends. Secondly, after fish oil and turmeric, you are just very thirsty.
- And for dessert, you'd better get some chocolate. Scientists at the University of South Australia, hiding the wrappers, claim that those who eat chocolate at least once a week, perform better at various cognitive tasks than those who modestly forego chocolate. This property of chocolate is thought to be due to the action of the flavonoids found within.
Researchers at Northern Arizona University, in the United States, have continued to study the problem and say that chocolate with 60 per cent cocoa content is best: it is most powerful in increasing concentration. However, it also increases blood pressure. Fortunately, a solution has been found: wash down a bar of green tea and you'll immediately provide your body with the relaxant L-thyanine and normalise your blood pressure.