Friday, 8 June 2012

Exam time revision snacks

Lucky Stick chocolate biscuits

Marmite on olive bread toast with tahini, alfalfa and cucumber

Apple slices, halloumi strips, pistachios
At school I was terrified of exams, really cripplingly nervous, to the point that I gave up. I spent my o' level revision time enjoying the sunshine and getting a great tan. Actually the 'giving up' phase was important, it took the pressure off, made me realise it wasn't the end of the world when I failed. After that exams were easy; relaxation, counter-intuitively, can help you focus. From then on, I learnt to use every revision minute effectively. I made lists on index cards which I taped to the wall next to the toilet. I got friends to grill me on facts. I'd ram all the information into my brain in quick time. Of course, this is no way to learn. Like a tan, the more rapidly you acquire it, the quicker you lose it. But it worked for exams.
Around this time every 16 to 18 year old in the country is sat, eyes glazed, at a desk, or, more likely, in bed with a laptop, revising for exams. My daughter has Politics A2 level on Monday and her teacher has been ill for the last term. She's been tearful, snappish, at times despairing. As a parent, you feel helpless. I'm doing my best, between my own work, to learn all of the Supreme Court decisions over the last century: Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona (from whence come the 'Miranda' rights so often heard on US cop shows). So I'm learning something too while I test her.
All we can do is support them, emotionally and practically. Regular cups of tea and coffee to keep them alert and of course, revision snacks which are remarkably similar to cocktail party food. In an effort to get your teen eating healthy brain food, you end up resorting to the tricks you used when they were toddlers, cutting fruit and vegetables in cheerful shapes and putting smiley faces on dips.
Revision snack suggestions:
Hummus dip with pitta bread/rice cakes/oat cakes
Seed mixes: I dry roast sunflower, pumpkin, linseed, hemp, sesame seeds with soy sauce and rub in some toasted seaweed flakes (sushi sheets).
Raisins, dried fruit such as apricots for iron or dried mango slices, chocolate raisins
Fresh fruit, cut up (banana slices) or easy to pop in mouth fruit such as strawberries, grapes, or blueberries
Same with vegetables: cut up slices of avocado, carrot batons, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes.
Cheese slices, cubes
Popcorn (plain or salt), pretzels, bread sticks
Dry cereal
Teeny sandwiches (with smoked salmon in, oily fish is good for you)
Sardines on toast, again, oily fish is brain food
Marmite on toast
Banana sandwiches
Chocolate biscuits

Yoghurt smoothies: fresh fruit, ice, banana in a blender with a large spoonful of honey or agave syrup.
Chocolate soya milk drinks
Fruit juice as opposed to squash
If you are going to have Red Bull, make it one a day max.

If you are going through exams, or if your kids are, what do you feed them? Do you attempt to stick to healthy food or just plough into the crisps and sweets?
Cucumber 'stars', carrot batons, cashews, yoghurt with yuzu paste dip.
 Jaffa cakes and Reeses peanut butter cup
 Mini cheese platter
 Quails eggs noughts and crosses with garlic aoli
Blueberries, bananas, hazelnuts


  1. I feel so sorry for the teen. Last December I took my first exam for 37 years and I was astonished how all my fears returned. I passed (first class), but I hated doing the exam. Learning is fine, but the bit at the end where you do the trained poodle isn't. So true that it isn't the end of the world if you fail...

  2. Nice to hear from you again, chumbles, I've been wondering what you've been up to.
    You do need some exams but I think our kids are over tested. It's not learning.

  3. The Marmite on Olive Bread photo makes the dish look superb (and I mean both the edible bit and the plate itself)! Almost seems a shame to eat it... almost.

  4. What a lovely mum you are - perfect food for anyone feeling stressed, when it is so easy not to eat anything good. Taking notes for the days my two take exams.

  5. Not only are you a good cook, you're a good mum! :) Sorry I haven't been attentive lately - been so busy! Got a job in Spain now for October and I hosted my own little buffet - you would have been proud...except we made waaaaaaay too much food! xxx

  6. Since my own wee lassies are only four and 2 years old I have never really given much thought yet too revision snacks. But I guess when my time comes I will be serving lots of brain food, that is, snacks and meals consisting of nuts and seeds, avocado, and fatty fish. But yours look absolutely scrummy. Your daughter is very lucky!

  7. Its really difficult seeing them go through the stress of exams, but it is just the gateway to the next stage whatever that might be. Love the revision snacks, the youngest Glam Teen has just finished his ASs but I'm sure he'd appreciate the dips snacks and cakes anytime. GG

  8. Gosh I remember that time so well, I had a bizarre daily programme, going to bed when I got home from school, revising until 9, getting up for an hour, going back, revising from 5am.. My Mum's idea of support was tea and buttered toast and suggesting I gave it all up and went to work in a bank...I reminded her of this when doing my master's degree years good luck to all and if the snacks are anything to go by she'll get top marks!

  9. Some very useful suggestions. I'm also facing into law exams, though not until September, but will definitely be dipping back into this for inspiration!

  10. Some very useful suggestions. I'm also facing into law exams, though not until September, but will definitely be dipping back into this for inspiration!


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