The Times 100 Study Survival Guide: Nutrition

fruit and veg stand

Is your usual student diet one of fizzy drinks and takeaways? This article might give you food for thought!

A healthy, balanced diet is really important during revision and exam time. Nutrition can have a significant impact on concentration and alertness levels so eating nutritious foods such as fruit and vegetables can really help you to do well. It's also really important to have a healthy breakfast to wake you up properly and kick start your day!

Here is a list of foods that you should be eating to get your brain in gear, as recommended by BBC Good Food:

Wholegrain: Want to be able to remember your revision in the exam? Then make sure you're eating a diet rich in a mix of wholegrain foods such as cereals, wheatbran, wheatgerm and whole wheat pasta as these are vital to a good memory! One study found that women who increased their folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 intake (all of which can be found in foods rich in wholegrain) showed an improvement in recalling information compared to women who were not taking a supplement.

Oily fish: Oily fish such as tuna and anchovies include essential omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid which is crucial to the health of our nervous system. Oily fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity.

Blackcurrants: Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin is blackcurrants so get a blackcurrant boost!

Broccoli: The vegetable is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.

The Times 100 Study Survival Guide: Fitness

Running is great exercise

Find yourself watching TV in study breaks? Perhaps a little exercise could help you improve performance when you hit the books.

To revise efficiently, it's essential that you are able to concentrate properly. However, it's not uncommon for students to find it difficult to focus as they usually would, due to the stress and pressure that exams can induce.

One way to help reduce the stresses and pressures of exam time is to perform moderate daily exercise. This will help divert your focus from work, while also producing hormones which help you to de-stress. Not only this, exercise keeps you fit and healthy which is always to be recommended!

Here are some ideas of exercises that you can do to help you to forget about the stress of exams:

1. Aerobics: Aerobic literally means 'with oxygen' and examples of aerobic exercise include everything from walking to jogging to swimming to ballroom dancing, all of which involve low-intensity activity in a way that improves oxygen to the body. Aerobic exercise will get your endorphins flowing and help relieve the stress of exams.

2. Stretching exercises: Stretching exercises are believed to stimulate receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones. Stretching exercises also relax tight, tense muscles and increase blood flow to the muscles.

3. Mind-body exercises: Exercises such as yoga involve the body, mind and spirit. Yoga poses improve flexibility and strength and incorporates breathing techniques that aid in relaxation and general wellness. Meditation is also closely linked to yoga which is proven to relieve stress, so why not find your nearest yoga class and give it a go!

The Times 100 Study Survival Guide: Revision

Revision time

There is no set formula for revision – everyone revises in a different way. Discovering a method that works for you will make the entire process much easier.

Some people read and re-read revision notes until they have finally sunk in, while others prefer to continually cut down notes, or use diagrams and other memory aids.

Remember to undertake revision in a quiet place, have everything you need on hand before you start and avoid distractions.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Develop revision tools from existing notes. Write concepts or facts on to cards and display them around the house, create memory aids such as diagrams or mnemonics that will help you remember key facts, or record yourself reading notes aloud and listen back.
  • Work with a friend to improve your knowledge. Discuss issues and topics or quiz each other.
  • Complete questions from past papers.
  • Pick the correct study and revision guides. Ask a teacher for advice on the most suitable resources (and don't forget The Times 100 can help!).
  • Mix it up to stay interested during a revision session. Switch from note taking to memorising, and then ask a friend to quiz you on the topic.
  • Take part in any revision sessions that are being organised by your teacher or lecturers – remember that they know more about the topics and possible exam questions than you do.

Remember to look after yourself ' eat well, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. Ensuring your body is in top condition will help your brain process and remember information, as well as help improve your exam performance.

The Times 100 Study Survival Guide: Before and during the exam

Exam in progress

With exams just around the corner we've compiled a list of tips for just before and during exams.

We've already provided advice on everything from nutrition to exercise as part of The Times 100 Study Survival Guide series. So we thought we'd end by giving you ten tips to help with the exams themselves.

Before the exam:

1. Organise your subject notes. Well before the exam make sure you have a complete set of notes. Ask your teacher for a checklist or find the exam board specification on their website.

2. Revise thoroughly. Find ways of revising that suit you. Whether you create summary cards, draw up mind maps, record and listen to revision MP3s or create quizzes for yourself…just make sure you do it.

3. Get hold of past papers and the associated mark schemes. These will give you an idea of what to expect and what the examiners will be looking for. Again, these should be available on the exam board websites. Once you have the papers you should practise, practise, practise. Try to do this within the time normally allowed.

4. Arrive for the exam in plenty of time with the correct equipment. Check your exam timetable and make sure you give yourself enough time. As a general rule you should have two pens, two pencils, a ruler, an eraser and a calculator (if required/allowed).

During the exam:

5. Work out how much time you should spend on each question. For example, you should allow a minute a mark for an hour paper with a total of sixty marks. Make sure you don't spend too long on lower marking answers thereby leaving too little time to fully answer higher marking questions.

6. Read the question…twice. Underline the command words e.g. explain, analyse discuss; and the content words i.e. the subject related terms. Then make sure you answer the question on the paper and not the question you want to see.

7. Plan your answers. Make sure you know what you are going to write before putting pen to paper. For longer answers and essays, it might be worth jotting down a quick plan first. Use the plan to keep you on track.

8. Answer clearly, legibly and logically. Start a new paragraph for each new point raised. Leaving a couple of lines between paragraphs will allow you to add additional comments later if you think of something else to write.

9. Answer all the questions. Complete the questions you can answer easily to start with, then go back and work on the rest. You won't be deducted marks for getting wrong answers so you have nothing to lose by having a go

10. Don't panic. If you get stuck take a deep breath and concentrate on what you do know. Start with the basics such as formulas and definitions and build up from there. And remember, a little bit of common sense goes a long way.

Good luck and remember there are a number of revision resources available at