Hints on Passing High School Exams

There are many study skills and strategies that people can share with you, and I encourage you to read the other articles here to see them. There is one test-performance enhancing strategy that is often overlooked that I have shared with many of my own students in the past, and been thanked for repeatedly.


Yes, chocolate. Honestly, I usually suggest that students eat a “Snickers” type bar about ten to twenty minutes before any big test, and here’s why.

Calories: When you take a big test like the SAT, your body burns a heck of a lot of calories. Your muscles don’t ache from it, but you can burn as much as you would during a 10-mile run. (Yes, you might consider test-taking in your new weight-loss strategy.) When you go into a test on an empty stomach, you literally wear yourself out. Your brain needs fuel to run at full capacity, and if it doesn’t have a readily available source, it starts to shut down, and you get sleepy or lose your ability to concentrate fully. A candy-bar is a good source of calories, and if you have one with nuts, then you’re also getting the longer-lasting sustaining power that sugar alone can’t give.

Caffeine: If you need to focus on your test, a little caffeine goes a long way. Chocolate has a little, which is just about right. You don’t want to chug a bunch of coffee or cola and wind up jittery – too much can be distracting and leave you worse off than you were to start.

Mood: Surely you’ve noticed that a positive mental attitude helps you do better on tests. You’re more relaxed and able to focus all the better on the test, rather than how badly you’re going to fail. Chocolate is a known mood-enhancer (and it’s legal!). Among other things, it stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain that are activated during sex.

With all that going for it, don’t you wish you had a candy bar for your next test?

Now, don’t forget to go and prepare too. You still can’t pass if you don’t know your material, and you certainly need to be well rested, so no staying up all night studying. (You’d hate to fall asleep and drool on your test as I did, one fateful freshman day, years ago.)