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Diet is important when it comes to learning. Besides knowledge, you do need actual “brain food” to keep the mind sharp, attention span up, and be cognitively flexible. A sharp mind is most important when taking a test, so eating the right food beforehand is essential.

Let’s take a look at the best foods to eat before a test, so you know what to have for dinner and breakfast to get ready.

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best foods to eat before a test


Fish are a great source of Omega-3s.

Omega-3 protein is great for boosting brain functionality, making you alert and concentrate more easily. However, not all fish are created equal.

The best fish to get Omega-3s from are certain cold-water fish. Wild Alaskan salmon is the absolute best source, and a great dinner too.

Other fish worth eating include:

    • Herring
    • Mackerel
    • Sardines
    • Trout

All of them contain Omega-3s. Again, this kind of fish is great to eat for a meal the night before taking a test. If you’re adventurous, you can take some sardines with you for a snack.

Complex Carbohydrates

Many diets today ignore most carbohydrates, but you should eat some carbs before a test.

Here’s why. Your brain is like an engine; it needs fuel to properly function. The main fuel it uses is sugar.

However, not all sugars are made equal. Simple sugar, like what’s found in candy and soda, burns up fast and doesn’t provide consistent energy.

However, complex carbs provide much more energy and are healthier than simple sugars. Also, there are plenty of options to choose from:

  • Fresh Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans / Legumes
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal

Pairing some of these options together into a healthy breakfast before a test won’t hurt.

Helpful Protein

Protein is your best friend before a test.

It’s well known that protein-heavy foods contribute to increased mental clarity and concentration. Eating a healthy dinner the night before, or breakfast the morning of a test will help tremendously.

Great breakfast choices include:

  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Lean bacon / Canadian bacon
  • Sugar-free muesli

Other snack foods include:

  • Blueberries
  • Flaxseed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried fruits
  • Walnuts

For dinner, fish paired with any of the following vegetables will help too:

  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bell peppers
  • Raw carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach

There’s plenty of room for delicious yet helpful protein meals before tests.

Energy Snacks

Depending on the test, you may have time to snack during breaks.

If so, then take advantage and bring foods that will keep your energy up. Again, a big key here is using complex carbohydrates.

Great choices to bring include:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Fresh fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars
  • Energy bars

Don’t bring chocolate, candy or soda, they contain simple sugars that will cause a crash. Also, for a general rule of thumb, if you do bring snacks, make sure to only eat them during designated breaks. If you try to eat during the test itself, the proctor will take them away from you.

best foods to eat before a test


Don’t ever underestimate the importance of water.

Water is essential for a healthy body and mind. Just like the rest of your body, the brain needs consistent hydration in order to perform.

Get ahead of the curve and drink plenty of water in the morning before a test. Also, if you can, take a water bottle with you to the testing location itself. On a break, don’t be afraid to drink a bit.

Don’t wait until you feel overly fatigued to drink; that symptom means that dehydration has already kicked in. Dehydration itself can:

  • Diminish concentration
  • Cause feelings of faintness
  • Drain physical energy

For more information and tips, check out Prep Expert.

Clay Cooper

Clay is a double-perfect scorer - within one week, he earned a 1600 on an official SAT and at 36 on an official ACT! Clay has also achieved 99th percentile scores on the PSAT, ISEE, GMAT, GRE, and LSAT. He has taught and developed courses for high school, college, and graduate-level standardized tests extensively around the country, and specializes in the field. He has studied law at Georgetown University Law Center and worked in the legal field as well, for attorneys, judges, and the Tennessee Attorney General.

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