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Test-taking Tip: Exam Day Eating Strategies

Healthy food for test prep We all know that good nutrition helps us live a healthier, longer life. But you may not know that that there are some foods that should be eaten—and avoided—because of their impact on your test-taking performance. In other words, the food choices you make immediately before your real estate exam can impact your performance significantly. So, what's best on exam day? Here are a few pointers:

Hydrate and decaffeinate: One of the basic requirements for good mental performance is that you're adequately hydrated. This means opting for healthy beverages. The best choice is water, and fruit juices are okay as long as they contain no added sugar. Sodas should be avoided, and drinks containing caffeine are best avoided or minimized, since caffeine has a dehydrating effect on the body and can sometimes intensify symptoms of nervousness. If you're accustomed to having coffee in the morning, you should limit yourself to one medium cup. This will keep your caffeine intake at an acceptable level while avoiding the headaches or other possible symptoms of withdrawal.

Carbs, yes. Refined starches and sugars, no: Despite the bad rap carbs have been getting lately, there are certain kinds of complex carbohydrates that provide your body and mind with the sustained energy needed for a long real estate exam. Foods containing refined sugars and refined flours are best left until after test time; they will cause a brief surge in energy, followed by a dramatic crash. Instead, opt for whole grains (such as a whole grain roll), fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Although otherwise healthy, starchy foods like potatoes and rice are best avoided on exam day. (Here's additional information on good carbs.)

Protein—small amounts of the right kind: Protein-rich foods can also be beneficial, as long as they're not high in fat. A small portion of fish, eggs, or lean chicken can do the trick. Nuts are also a good source of protein, and are a particularly handy snack to bring along and munch on just before the exam begins. You should avoid turkey, which contains L-tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleepiness.

Of course, if you're more than a little nervous about the exam, it can be difficult to consider putting anything in your stomach beforehand. If this is the case for you, try just a handful or two of nuts and a small glass of milk. Be sure to bring a bottle of water along as well. Even if pre-test nerves don't bother your appetite, you should still avoid a full-sized meal right before the test. When you eat a big meal, your body spends its energy on digestion and your test performance will suffer. (Here are additional tips for maintaining a "high performance" diet even after exam day.)

Remember, Rockwell Institute is here to help with all your real estate exam preparation questions.