During exam season, pupils at Repton School often find themselves buried in textbooks, notes, and study guides, striving to absorb as much information as possible. While rigorous study habits are essential, one crucial aspect that is often overlooked is nutrition. At Repton School, we believe that a well-balanced diet is a cornerstone of academic success. Here's why proper nutrition is vital for our O Block and Sixth Form preparing for exams and how it can significantly impact their performance.

The Brain: Our Learning Engine

The brain is the most energy-demanding organ in our body, using up to 20% of our daily caloric intake. During intense study periods, the demand for brain fuel increases even further. Proper nutrition provides the necessary energy to sustain long hours of concentration and cognitive function.

Key Nutrients for Brain Health
  1. Glucose: The brain's primary energy source. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide a steady supply of glucose, helping maintain energy levels throughout the day.
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, omega-3s are essential for brain function and development. They support cognitive processes and improve memory and focus.
  3. Antioxidants: Berries, nuts, and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants, which protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, ensuring it operates at its best.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: B-vitamins (found in eggs, dairy, and leafy greens) aid in energy production, while iron (from red meat, beans, and spinach) ensures oxygen transport to the brain. Zinc (in nuts, seeds, and shellfish) supports memory and cognitive stability.
  5. Hydration: Dehydration can impair cognitive function and concentration. Water, herbal teas, and water-rich fruits and vegetables keep the brain hydrated and alert.

The Connection Between Diet and Academic Performance

Enhanced Concentration and Focus

Balanced blood sugar levels prevent the dreaded energy crashes that can disrupt study sessions. A diet rich in complex carbs and proteins provides sustained energy, helping pupils maintain focus and productivity for extended periods.

Improved Memory and Learning

Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have been shown to enhance neuroplasticity – the brain's ability to form and reorganise synaptic connections. This is crucial for memory retention and the learning process, making it easier to recall information during exams.

Mood and Stress Management

Studying for exams can be a stressful endeavour. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium (found in leafy greens and nuts), can help manage stress levels. Moreover, balanced meals stabilise mood, reducing anxiety and promoting a positive mental state conducive to studying.

Practical Nutrition Tips for Pupils

Plan Balanced Meals

Aim for a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in each meal. For example, a breakfast of porridge topped with fruits and nuts, a lunch of grilled chicken with quinoa and vegetables, and a dinner of salmon with sweet potatoes and spinach can provide a wide range of essential nutrients.

Healthy Snacking

Instead of reaching for sugary snacks or caffeine-loaded drinks, opt for healthier alternatives. Fresh fruits, yoghurt, nuts, and whole-grain crackers can provide energy without the crash.

Stay Hydrated

Keep a water bottle handy and sip regularly. Herbal teas and natural fruit-infused water are also great options to keep hydration levels up without added sugars.

Regular Meals

Skipping meals can lead to energy dips and decreased concentration. Encourage a routine of regular, balanced meals to maintain steady energy levels.

Mindful Eating

Pay attention to what and when you eat. Avoid eating out of stress or boredom and focus on nourishing your body and mind with each meal.


At Repton School, we are committed to the holistic development of our pupils. Proper nutrition is a critical component of academic success, impacting everything from concentration and memory to mood and stress levels. We encourage our pupils to adopt healthy eating habits that will fuel their brains and support their hard work and our partnership with ethical catering company Thomas Franks allows our pupils to enjoy freshly prepared and nutritious meals every day. Remember, what you eat today can influence how you perform tomorrow. So, make every bite count!