Smelling A Lemon Will Help Your Kids Sail Through Exams, Say Neuroscientists

Or they could just, you know, revise a bit.

Preparing in advance, not revising into the night, and eating and sleeping well are the obvious tips for teens on doing well in exams.

But neuroscientists have suggested that sniffing lemons and squeezing your ears could also benefit kids ahead of their school tests.

Queen Anne’s School, near Reading, worked with neuroscientists at universities to try and work out how teenage brains work.

In response to the research, the school have come up with a revision guide, seen by The Times, based on its Brain Can Do programme. “Prepare yourself [for exams] by conditioning yourself to associate an object or sensation with a positive mood,” they advise. “Firstly select a trigger – a physical action such as squeezing your ear or a smell such as a lemon.

“On the day of the exam use your trigger, eg. touch your ear or smell a lemon. The act of revisiting your trigger will invoke the same positive emotions that you have associated with it and you can carry these emotions with you in the exam.”


Other unusual methods of preparing for exams included shoulder rolling and adopting a “superman” pose to calm the stress response in the body.

The guide also advises students to look around the room they’ll be doing their exam in, so they can familiarise themselves with it.

Other tips include avoiding negative people before an exam, revising at the same time of the day at which exams are sat, and putting down your phone to get into a good sleep routine.

Not sold on those methods? There are many other ways parents can help their kids keep calm and revise before exams.

Identify what type of learner your child is, Lorrae Jaderberg, co-founder of JK Educate, previously told HuffPost UK. “You can then suggest different techniques depending on what you think they’ll digest easily,” she said.

Kinaesthetic learners enjoy learning by movement, such as gestures, dancing, counting fingers or even acting. Auditory learners retain information best through sound, including songs, chants and listening to recordings. And visual learners will learn best through picture stories, shapes, and mind maps.

Also, find an engaging place for your child to study – will they be distracted by the TV if they’re trying to revise in the living room? Will there be too many temptations in their bedroom if they’re sitting on the bed?

Find more revision tips here.