Tomorrow morning an estimated 143,000 anxious students will sit NCEA exams - if they all turn up.
Last year 3000 failed to show up for their big day. The main reasons were family emergencies, illness and transport problems.
Nutritionist Nikki Hart said students should eat for exams just as athletes prepared for an event.
For a morning exam Hart said proteins and carbohydrate the night before - such as macaroni cheese or spaghetti bolognaise - would be good.
On the morning of the exam, a low-glycaemic-index meal, such as Vogel's toast with an egg or oat-based muesli with yoghurt and fruit, would get top marks.
"That is a good way to start the day and it keeps your blood sugars nice and even," Hart said. Keeping hydrated was also very important.
Taking a sports drink into the exam would hydrate as well as give the body extra carbohydrates.
Hart advised steering clear of "brainfoods" such as blueberries and salmon unless the body was accustomed to them.
"To have a brainy body you would eat that sort of thing all the time but because the body does not like surprises you would not introduce these around exam time."
New Zealand Qualification Authority deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said preparation and parental involvement were the keys to success. "We are getting to crunch time and students need to make sure they are well prepared," Thornton said. Exams were a big part of NCEA achievement and students could access a great deal of information and study tips to help them get ready.
Thornton said parents should have their own checklist to make sure they provided the best environment for their children to study and rest, ensuring they ate properly and were well prepared. Parents should be familiar with the exam timetable and ensure children arrived in plenty of time.By Kirsty Wynn Email Kirsty