At the end of a session, we have to give an examination where 2 years worth of syllabus is asked and it is the most important examination. It takes place in 2 sessions 9-12 and 2-5. I have heard from some of my peers that having things like energy drinks or consuming chocolate could help boost the performance, while others tend to thing it's useless and might even have a negative effect on our performance. We get only 1 shot at this exam and I don't want to take any chance with it. So what I want to ask is,

1) Can consuming energy drinks or chocolate have any effect on my performance (Positive/negative)

2) Are there things whose consumption or general recommendations which can boost my performance on the final day as after giving a 3 hour paper is quite exhausting mentally and physically. And also since it's lunch time, the type of food that I should consume (eg should I have more carbs to get energy or will it make me feel sleepy ??)


9 Answers 9


I think doing such things may be risky. Instead, do something natural. The most important is to get plenty of sleep the night before the exam and don't try to cram up to the last minute.

Between the two exams parts, get some light exercise and, again, don't cram. Let your mind relax and let it integrate what you know rather than trying to force it to absorb things that may mask other, more important things.

As for food, eat as you normally do but nothing heavy that will make you groggy and wanting an afternoon nap. If you eat differently, your gut may rebel against you.

If you have been taking good notes throughout the learning period, then summarizing them on note cards (big ideas only) in the week previous can be a good plan. You can then do a light review at the morning and mid-day meal. A light review. Big ideas.

But make your body and mind as comfortable as possible. Breathe deeply. Relax your face. Smile. (These are martial arts advices, actually.)

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    Thanks a lot for this great piece of advice, maybe keeping things normal and relaxing is really what I should do , rather than fuzzing too much about small details. Sep 24, 2019 at 4:18
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    @RandomAspirant about the “getting plenty of sleep the night before”. While this is true, make sure to get enough sleep the days leading up to the exam. There is no benefit in sleeping 5 hours a night for the week before and then sleeping 11 hours the night before. Sep 24, 2019 at 8:00
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    @G.Chiusole, yes, agree. A relaxed mind is a powerful mind. (martial arts, again)
    – Buffy
    Sep 24, 2019 at 11:33
  • And don't freak out if you are too nervous and can't sleep the night before. Says she who still remembers showing up at an exam, feeling refreshed, because she had slept 3 h the night before, not just the usual 45 min nervous doze. Sep 24, 2019 at 21:42
  • "I think doing such things may be risky. Instead, do something natural." This is meaningless. There's nothing unnatural about eating chocolate or consuming small amounts of caffeine, and the positive effects (as well as side effects from overuse) of them have been well established by research.
    – Cubic
    Sep 25, 2019 at 8:57

Whether it has positive, negative ot neutral effects is completely up to the person. You may do some tries before - drink/don't drink and do some concentration tasks, compare your performances. About question 2, another things which could have positive or negative are drinking coffee, doing sport and learning new things just before the exam. (For most people, the last one is bad.)

Of course, you should not take any "strong" substances which need a doctor's prescription without discussing this with a doctor. After all, it's just an exam - your health is worth so much more!

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    Well said. In law school I normally had an energy drink at every exam, but I was a frequent coffee drinker to begin with and knew how it affected me. I took it up a notch for exams, but it was a small notch for me. For someone who doesn't drink much caffeine and doesn't know how it affects them personally, the results might been different. Sep 24, 2019 at 16:16

I had the experience a couple years ago of conducting a hearing. There were ten days of hearing and each day the hearing went from 9 to 5 with an hour break for lunch. Each day was as intense as an all-day exam. I found that my concentration in the afternoon was best if I followed the diet that is recommended for gestational diabetes: frequent small meals that emphasize protein. I had a light breakfast and then a snack around 11. The lunch break started at 12:30 or 1, and I found it helpful to make a point of only eating half of my usual lunch. Then I had the rest of my lunch a couple of hours later. Following this pattern was extremely helpful.

Proponents of the low-carb diet say that it can be beneficial for everyone, not just those with impaired glucose metabolism, in that it boosts afternoon concentration and productivity.


Are you allowed to eat/drink during the exams? If so, I'd have water or something like lemonade, and possible chocolate covered coffee beans. The logic behind it fairly simple, you'll likely run low on sugar and it's good to replenish that in a swift way (of course without overdoing it).

If you are not allowed to bring anything with you, then I wouldn't bother. Overshooting sugar to "energize" yourself may result in spiking your blood sugar, which may make you sleepy at best. In any case, you'll likely get rid of that sugar before half-time (unless you are diabetic, but then I doubt you'd ask this in the first place).

If that's the case, just take a nice break in between the two exams and try to detach. Food is a good idea, obviously, but try not to overeat (for the same reason as above). Exercises for neck and shoulders would be helpful, as well as a walk in fresh air.

Also try to look outside at different distances, if possible, during the exams. Staring at the same distance for longer times is not really good for your eyes, and might contribute to both mental and physical fatigue. Changing focal distance has helped a lot during 5h university exams, and still helps me during hours of reading or computer work

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    Thank You so much, Well we are not allowed to have anything during the exams, but I think the last advice for focal distance would be really helpful, Thanks a lot :) Sep 24, 2019 at 4:16
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    I like chocolate almonds. The fat and protein slows the sugar and theobromine uptake. Sep 24, 2019 at 20:50

There're a variety of so-called cognitive enhancers available on the market. Their use is controversial and their efficacy is uncertain, especially since what works for one person might not work for another. If you choose to use them, you're on your own.

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    Hmmm. So, risky.
    – Buffy
    Sep 24, 2019 at 11:32
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    @Buffy Only risky if you don't know how it affects you personally. It might be riskier to go au naturel if you know you run out of gas halfway through. Sep 24, 2019 at 20:47

Do what you know works for you and what you have tried before.

You are very unlikely to be able to gain an 'edge' you haven't had in practice, but could easily throw yourself off.It's not always easy to predict how different foods/drinks/sleep schedules/chairs will affect you and it's not worth leaving it to chance on the day to find out.

If you can, do practice session(s) as close to exam conditions as you can; that includes eating the same food, sleeping well the night before, sitting in a chair for two 3-hour sessions. If you try that you'll find out what works for you and what doesn't and will help you on the day as you can think about only the exam and not need to worry about unrelated things.


I would suggest a big bag of sultanas.

No science here, recommended to me and I found it helpful.

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    I'm not exactly sure , what you mean by Sultanas Sep 24, 2019 at 4:14
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    @RandomAspirant it's a type of berry - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultana_(grape)
    – Allure
    Sep 24, 2019 at 4:35
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    I think it translates to "raisin."
    – shoover
    Sep 24, 2019 at 4:42
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    @shoover Not exactly. They are both dried grapes, but different varieties. Sultanas are sweeter than raisins and less "dry".
    – alephzero
    Sep 24, 2019 at 8:29
  • @alephzero Not exactly. The names seem to mean different things in different regions. The term "sultana raisin" also appears on the Wikipedia page, so the terms aren't exclusive.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 24, 2019 at 12:00

What I can recommend you is to chew gum during the exam. It helps you stay relaxed, because your body associates the action of eating with a save environment. Furthermore the main factors of eating or drinking something before the exam are more or less placebo (If you leave out any drugs). So if some people tell you, that certain things are helpful, yet other people tell you they have negative effects, both groups may be right. It depends on your mindset.

Some say that you can help your brain out by training it with a certain flavor. For example: If you drink cherry juice every time you study, it could help you remember some things when you drink it while you are writing your exam.


I have heard from some of my peers that having things like energy drinks or consuming chocolate could help boost the performance, while others tend to thing it's useless and might even have a negative effect on our performance.

Different strokes for different folks, but I am personally in the former group.

My example is more related to billiards, which I used to play competitively in a league. Billiards is more of a mental game than a physical one (especially the version I played), and I noticed a dramatic improvement in my tactical approach after having consumed caffeine (mostly energy drinks, but coffee worked as well to a lesser degree).

I have since tested this on other occasions e.g. playing chess, and the same thing happens there.

But this is different from person to person, as my friend (who I played in the league with, and was playing chess against) does not experience the same thing.

So, to answer your question: can it be useful? Yes, I can personally vouch for that. Will it be useful for you? I can't guarantee that. It might, it might not.

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