How to achieve exam success while fasting for Ramadan
Don't worry - you got this! Source: Shutterstock

Once again this year, exam season has fallen around the same time as Ramadan, so you’re likely to be revising and sitting exams while fasting.

While it’s likely to be challenging, believe that you can do it, and the pride you’ll feel for your faith and restraint come the end of fasting month will be hard to match.

There are two meals eaten during Ramadan: suhoor, a pre-fast meal eaten before the sun rises; and iftar, the “breaking fast” meal consumed at dusk.

Here’s how to maximise your studies and work towards success while fasting…

During daylight

Take regular breaks: Don’t push yourself too hard. You’re unlikely to find revising solidly for hours on end very productive, empty stomach or otherwise. Try working for one hour then give yourself a 10-minute break. After a few of these sessions, give yourself a slightly longer break as a reward before getting back to it. Watch an episode of your favourite TV show, read a book or catch up with a friend.

Stay active: If you’re feeling tired, get up and get moving. Nothing too strenuous, just get up and walk around. It would be even more beneficial for you to go out and get some fresh air. You’ll feel much more awake after getting a change of scenery.

Wash: Try splashing your face with cool water to revitalise or have a shower to make you feel fresh and ready to work. As you wash before prayer, you may find this wakes you up and gives you the strength to keep studying.

Plan ahead: Work out what you need to get done and in what time period and plan your breaks around prayer times.

Keep your study space clean: Sit at a desk and not on your bed or you may find yourself tempted to drift off, especially as your usual sleeping pattern is likely to be disturbed. Remove distractions from your desk so you have a clean work space free from temptation.

ramadanClean work space = clean mind. Source: Shutterstock

Make use of your ‘lunch’ breaks: If you’re in lectures during the day, use your lunch breaks to your advantage. As mentioned before, it’s important to give yourself adequate breaks, so when we say use it to your advantage, we don’t mean cramming in revision notes, but doing something nice and refreshing. Take a prayer break or have a nap, make a to-do list or go for a walk.

Make sure your sleeping pattern is okay: You’re likely to be staying up late and getting up early so your schedule will be jumbled up. Because of this, you may want to use the daylight hours to catch up on sleep. It’s important to ensure you’re properly rested – not only for the sake of your grades, but for your well-being. If you have an exam coming up, it’s likely you’ll need to tweak your sleeping pattern to ensure you’re well rested – and don’t risk sleeping in and missing it or being exhausted during the exam!

Take it easy: We know you want to do well but you mustn’t put too much pressure on yourself. Ensure you don’t overload yourself in the daytime when your body is under stress.

Be sure to make time for yourself. Source: Giphy

Revise with friends: Okay, maybe don’t revise with friends all the time, but spending some time around people you love – even better if your friends are also fasting – will be sure to lift your spirits. You may even be able to share a few tips with your pals, or even just share a worry or two. Either way, it will be great to have some company for a while.

During sundown

Eat lots of healthy food: It can be tempting to gorge on lots of fatty, stodgy, fried foods once you reach iftar as, after being hungry all day, you’re starving and craving filling, unhealthy foods. But if you give in to the cravings, you’re likely to end up feeling lethargic – not exactly optimum for studying!

Especially for suhoor, you should try and incorporate as many ‘brain foods’ into your diet as possible. Think: avocado, dark chocolate, eggs, walnuts, bananas and almonds. These will improve your focus and help you retain information as you study.

You are what you eat! Source: Giphy

Get into a routine: Set a routine that works for you. It’s likely to be beneficial for you to work soon after eating as you won’t be so distracted by hunger, so maybe give yourself 15 minutes or so after eating to recuperate before cracking out the textbooks.

Stay hydrated: If you’re studying after iftar or Taraweeh (extra night prayers performed only during Ramadan), drink lots of water. Hydration is so good for your brain and will help you feel well and ready for your studies. In fact, it’s important to drink as much water as possible during sundown to prepare your body for the day ahead.

Eat slowly: When you do eat, try and resist the temptation munch it all down quickly. If you eat slowly the energy of your food will slowly be released into your system, keeping you energised for longer.

Prepare your meals: It can be difficult to cook filling, healthy meals every day – especially when you’re super hungry! Instead, try cooking large batches of a few healthy meals and popping them in your freezer. You can buy cheap Tupperware and divide the meals into portions, then all you have to do is pop them in the microwave and voila!

Cook with friends: Alternatively, you could try cooking with friends – Muslim or non-Muslim. Cooking together creates a warming environment, especially when you’re away from family, and will likely be a merry event you can all look forward to.

Check out events at your mosque: You could also ask if there’s anything going on at your local mosque. Mosques all over the world organise special communal meals during Ramadan so you can be surrounded by people of your faith during mealtimes, lessening the hardship of being away from home.

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