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Ensuring Healthy Eating and Avoiding Staying up Late are Important Tips for Students Before School Exams

30 May 2024

With the academic exams drawing near, all families have initiated a state of emergency at home to ensure their children are adequately prepared before plunging into these crucial assessments, as the exam period is recognized as one of the most challenging times rife with pressure and stress in every household. Throughout the exams and the preceding days of studying and preparation, bad habits and practices increase, greatly impacting the students’ mental, psychological and physical health.


Dr. Shaikha Shaheen, family medicine consultant at Al Wakra Health Center, the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), said that the exams occupy the minds of many students, parents and sometimes the entire family. In order to find the best study and review method to enhance information retention in the mind and facilitate easier recall, it is essential to know how to be properly prepared for exams to reduce stress and achieve better marks.


One of the most common bad habits is neglecting ones’ health by focusing solely on studying. It is crucial to maintain healthy eating at regular intervals and staying hydrated with fluids like water and fresh fruit juices. Additionally, engaging in physical activity can support brain function, thus students can exercise by outdoor walking for a short distance, as even a little exercise helps reduce any stress or tension they may experience. 


“Essential Medications”

Dr. Shaikha advised and reminded students with chronic conditions like asthma, hypertension or diabetes not to forget their medications in order to prevent fainting during exams.


She stressed on the importance of practicing breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, ensuring adequate sleep at night, walking while studying to avoid prolonged periods of sitting in one place or hunching over which negatively affects the back and neck, and limiting excessive concentration on computer screens or other electronic devices.


“Harmful Effects of Staying Up Late”

Dr. Shaikha added that studying late at night is an ineffective approach to studying. Despite the perception of maximizing study time until the last minute, the brain is deprived of rest, making it more difficult to recall the information studied.


She warned that staying up late can lead to extreme fatigue, exhaustion or nervous pressure, and cautioned against excessive intake of stimulants, as they can have adverse effects such as increased heart rate and impaired concentration.


Dr. Shaikha noted that the optimal time for studying is during the early morning hours and from 5 PM to 8 PM. She highlighted that students should get a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sleep before an exam to support metabolism, enhance memory consolidation and promote a calm state of the nerves, ultimately leading to improved performance and heightened concentration during the exam.


“Exam Night”

It is recommended to dedicate the night before the exam to a brief review of the summaries containing the key points prepared in the previous study days. It is preferable to refrain from studying anything new on the exam night, instead it’s advisable to focus on reviewing the summaries that have already been prepared.


While reviewing a topic in the summaries, it’s important to take a minute to ensure good understanding and recall of the subject before moving on to the next one. If lack of understanding occurs, it is advisable to re-review the topic and gather additional information to enable moving on to a different subject.


“Early Sleep”

Getting sufficient sleep on the night before exam is crucial in order facilitate the brain’s ability to recall the information that have been studied. It’s essential to establish a regular bedtime routine to ensure waking up on the exam day feeling well-rested.


Prior to going to bed, it’s important to take some time to arrange the study notes and relax, making it easier to get a good night's sleep for a better information retention in the brain. In addition, it’s important to make sure that all necessary tools for the exam are readily prepared to avoid being late in the morning or forgetting essential items, as well as allowing some extra time in the morning to enjoy a healthy breakfast and start the day without the burden of feeling stressed due to lateness.