study nootropics

Best Nootropics For Studying, Memory, and Focus

Written by Erik Levi, FNTP — Updated on July 24, 2021


  • Nootropics can promote energy, wakefulness, attention, and memory encoding, all of which can maximize study sessions

  • Using over-the-counter cognitive enhancers to study has exploded in popularity over the past few years

  • Nootropic herbs such as bacopa monieri have been used for centuries as study aids

As school becomes more competitive, students around the world are turning to cognitive-enhancing nootropics.

These include nootropic supplements that can increase mental performance without the dangerous side effects of traditional study drugs.

Read More: Why You Should Never Buy Nootropics From Amazon

What Are The Best Nootropics for Studying - Quick Answers

Mind Lab Pro#1 Nootropic For Beginners
Learn More
Lion's Mane
Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain healthLearn More
Bacopa MonieriiThe Indian "Supreme God" herbLearn More
Qualia MindMost Nootropics Per Serving
Learn More
Blood Sugar BreakthroughStabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levelsLearn More
OxiracetamExtremely popular synthetic learning and memory aidLearn More
MagnesiumInvolved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in Your BodyLearn More
A staple in Eastern medicineLearn More
AniracetamOne of the most popular nootropics for focus and moodLearn More
CiticolineSupercharged source of choline for your brainLearn More
NoopeptWorld's #1 selling nootropic (and for good reason)Learn More
A legal over-the-counter version on ModafinilLearn More

Attention Deficit Disorder Drugs

It’s no secret that heavy stimulants such as Adderall have become an epidemic on college campuses.

Best Nootropics for Studying, Best Nootropics For Students, nootropics for learning, Nootropics for test
Drugs like Adderall are effective for studying but come with pretty severe drawbacks when taken without a prescription.

Although some students legitimately need these medications to manage their ADHD, many students purchase the drugs on the black market to pull all-nighters.

While Adderall abuse may have some benefit in the short term, it can come with some severe downsides.

Natural Over-The-Counter Adderall Alternatives

Anyone who has experienced the dreaded Adderall crash will attest to how terrible these drugs can make you feel when they wear off.

Taking prescription stimulants off-label can cause potentially severe health issues such as:

  1. Sleep issues
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Panic attacks
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Stroke

However, nootropics can be a much more sustainable alternative to abusing drugs like Adderall.

ADD Supplements

Instead of dumping excessive amounts of dopamine in your brain, nootropics work through much more subtle pathways.

These supplements can improve your ability to concentrate and retain information while you study, without the health risks. Let’s take a look at the best nootropics for students.

Best Nootropics For Studying

1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic for studying

#1 Nootropic For Beginners

  • Mind Lab Pro is one of the most potent preformulated nootropic stacks on the market.
  • This stack delivers specific nootropics that work together to optimize your brain for studying. 
  • It includes 11 cognitive-enhancing ingredients that work synergistically to boost your mind's processing speed and working memory while improving neurotransmitter production for laser focus and concentration.
  • There's also B-vitamin co-factors to enhance absorbability.
  • The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients. 
  • I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike

2. Lion's Mane

Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain health

Lion's Mane mushroom, scientifically referred to as Hericium Erinaceus is well known for its potential to support regeneration of impaired neuronal synapses, boost neurotransmitters, stimulate neurite outgrowth and neuronal signaling.1Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Wong Kah-Hui, Murali Naidu, and Pamela Rosie David, Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help?, J Tradit Complement Med. 2013

Extracts of this culinary mushroom contain polysaccharides which have the ability to exert influence on neuronal differentiation and encourage survival of nerve cells.2Young Shik Park , Hyun Soo Lee, Moo Ho Won, Jin Ha Lee, Shin Young Lee, Hyeon Yong Lee, Effect of an exo-polysaccharide from the culture broth of Hericium erinaceus on enhancement of growth and differentiation of rat adrenal nerve cells, Cytotechnology. 2002

All of these combined properties mean consumption of Lion's Mane mushroom stimulates learning caliber, promotes recalling capacity and assists you during the process of studying.3Kah-Hui Wong , Murali Naidu, Rosie Pamela David, Robiah Bakar, Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review), Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Lion's Mane.

3. Bacopa Monieri

Bacopa Monnieri for Studying

The Indian "Supreme God" herb

Bacopa is an all-natural nootropic in use for millennia in Eastern cultures. It may be one of the original study drugs.

There is archeological evidence that monks and scholars used bacopa monnieri to help them memorize prayers and manuscripts thousands of years ago!

Nothing has changed all that much, and Bacopa is still a fantastic herb for hitting the books if you’re a modern student. Modern research also suggests that this nootropic is useful for studying.

Bacopa monnieri contains organic compounds called “bacosides” that may speed up mental processing and increase information retention according to research.

As another bonus for students, bacopa is an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body deal with stress and help the anxiety of studying for exams.

Bacopa can keep your hormones in balance so that you can focus effectively on the work in front of you.

We consider bacopa a must-have for any student looking for a calm and collected focus.

Learn More About Bacopa Monierii for Studying

4. Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind Nootropics Stack For Studying

Most Nootropics Per Serving

  • Qualia Mind's advanced formula includes 28 nootropic ingredients designed to synergistically enhance your focus, concentration, and memory formation abilities.
  • It boosts and efficiently synthesizes acetylcholine while increasing mitochondrial function and cellular energy.
  • You also get B-vitamins, vitamins C, and D3 as co-factors to optimize neurotransmitter synthesis.
  • The caffeine also adds a boost of mental energy. A caffeine-free version is available too.
  • This stack is great for any student who needs a boost in brainpower. 
  • Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available

5. Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

Blood Sugar Breakthrough is a complex formula consisting of several ingredients which have been linked to the enhancement of cognitive processes such as memory, concentration and studying.

Ingredients like biotin, chromium, and alpha lipoic acid found in Blood Sugar Breakthrough can improve the responsiveness of the body's cells and tissues to insulin and hence have an overall positive impact on brain health.4NIH, Chromium, NIH. 20215Mitra Hemmati, Homa Babaei, and Mohammadreza Abdolsalehei, Survey of the Effect of Biotin on Glycemic Control and Plasma Lipid Concentrations in Type 1 Diabetic Patients in Kermanshah in Iran (2008-2009), Oman Med J. 2013

Some ingredients in the Blood Sugar Breakthrough Formula have antioxidative properties which also aid in the improvement of intense cognitive exercises like studying.6Supatra Porasuphatana , Suthi Suddee, Atinuch Nartnampong, Julraht Konsil, Busakorn Harnwong, Adichai Santaweesuk, Glycemic and oxidative status of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus following oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012

6. Oxiracetam

oxiracetam for studying, does oxiracetam helps studying

Extremely popular synthetic learning and memory aid

Oxiracetam is a synthetic racetam-type nootropic, meaning it modulates the AMPA and NDMA receptors in your brain.

It increases the amount of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which can ultimately help you study better.7Gouliaev AH, Senning A. Piracetam and other structurally related nootropics, Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1994

Oxiracetam has clinically proven benefits for cognition, and many users note that it can increase their attention span, information retention, and overall cognitive processes.

In short, it can help you get “in the zone” while studying.8Fordyce DE, et al. Enhancement of hippocampally-mediated learning and protein kinase C activity by oxiracetam in learning-impaired DBA/2 mice, Brain Res. 1995

This nootropic also has a mild stimulatory effect that can keep you alert and on task. However, it is not nearly as powerful as a drug like Adderall, so you don’t need to worry about crashing later.

Oxiracetam achieves its effects through much more subtle and sustainable means so that you can take it frequently without fear.

Learn More Oxiracetam for Studying

7. Magnesium

Magnesium for Studying

Involved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in Your Body

Magnesium is an essential mineral for various cognitive functions, including studying. We know that studying is an extensive process requiring deep concentration, learning and memorization.9Kateba Al-Ghazali, Sana Eltayeb, Ayesha Musleh, Tamara Al-Abdi, Vijay Ganji, and Zumin Shi, Serum Magnesium and Cognitive Function Among Qatari Adults, Front Aging Neurosci. 2020

Research suggests that increasing the intake of dietary magnesium can help in enhancing our cognitive abilities such as learning, focusing and memorization. This postulation is supported by extensive clinical evidence suggesting that insufficient levels of magnesium in the body are associated with cognitive impairment.10Inna Slutsky , Nashat Abumaria, Long-Jun Wu, Chao Huang, Ling Zhang, Bo Li, Xiang Zhao, Arvind Govindarajan, Ming-Gao Zhao, Min Zhuo, Susumu Tonegawa, Guosong Liu, Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium, Neuron. 201011Jürgen Vormann, Magnesium: nutrition and metabolism, Mol Aspects Med. 2003

It is well known that different forms of magnesium can have different bioavailabilities; hence, a complex formulation consisting of various forms of elemental magnesium such as those found in Magnesium Breakthrough can significantly increase the likelihood of receiving all the cognitive benefits of magnesium.12Abdullah M. Al Alawi,corresponding author,Sandawana William Majoni, and Henrik Falhammar , Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions, Int J Endocrinol. 201813Jan Philipp Schuchardt and Andreas Hahn, Intestinal Absorption and Factors Influencing Bioavailability of Magnesium-An Update, Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2017

8. Reishi

A staple in Eastern medicine

Reishi is a medicinal mushroom with many therapeutic effects ranging from improved cardiac function to enhanced cognitive abilities.14Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie, Chapter 9Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 2011

The most appealing feature of Reishi is its neurostimulating effect on intense cognitive processes such as memory building, concentration and studying.15Karen S Bishop , Chi H J Kao , Yuanye Xu , Marcus P Glucina , R Russell M Paterson, Lynnette R Ferguson, From 2000 years of Ganoderma lucidum to recent developments in nutraceuticals, Phytochemistry. 2015

Studies have demonstrated several positive cognitive effects such as improvement of mood, boost of focus, increase in clarity, ability to concentrate for long hours and ability to grasp concepts quickly among users of Reishi.16Najeeb Khatian & Muhammad Aslam, Effect of Ganoderma lucidum on memory and learning in mice, Clinical Phytoscience. 2019

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Reishi.

9. Aniracetam

Aniracetam for Studying, Aniracetam supplement

One of the most popular nootropics for focus and mood

Aniracetam is a cousin of oxiracetam and is also a racetam. It works through a similar mechanism, but it does have a few distinctions.

Like oxiracetam, many people say that aniracetam is great for stimulated-but-controlled focus and memory. And, there are plenty of clinical studies to back this up.17Shirane M, Nakamura K. Aniracetam enhances cortical dopamine and serotonin release via cholinergic and glutamatergic mechanisms in SHRSP, Brain Res. 2001 18Ingvar M, et al. Enhancement by an ampakine of memory encoding in humans, Exp Neurol. 1997

It is also famous for elevating mood. Feeling an emotional boost could put you in a better headspace to crack open the books and get to work. Keep in mind this is not the manic high of a drug like Adderall, but a more gentle effect.

Aniracetam and oxiracetam are both great choices, but aniracetam might be better if you are looking for a mood boost as well.19Nakamura K, Tanaka Y.. Antidepressant-like effects of aniracetam in aged rats and its mode of action, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001

Learn More About Aniracetam for Studying

10. Citicoline

Citicoline for studying, citicoline supplement for studying

Supercharged source of choline for your brain

This nootropic is an excellent, stimulation free source of energy for your hungry brain. It is a form of choline, which is a crucial nutrient for overall brain health and cognition.

Citicoline is the perfect addition to your studying stack if you are going to use oxiracetam, aniracetam, or noopept.

Those nootropics can use up the choline stores in your brain, meaning it’s a good idea to supplement with an additional source.

The racetams can then turn it into acetylcholine, improving your focus and memory in the process.

Also, if your brain starts running low on choline, you run the risk of a headache. This pain is obviously something you DON’T want while studying for an important test.

We recommend always combining racetams with something like citicoline for this reason.

Learn More about Citicoline for Studying

11. Noopept

Noopept for studying, best nootropics for studying

World's #1 selling nootropic (and for good reason)

Noopept is very similar to the racetams listed above, in that it’s a synthetic nootropic that can improve studying through the acetylcholine system.

It also stimulates what’s called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF).

BDNF and NGF are the processes that grow and repair new neurons.

Building and repairing neurons is critical for maintaining the health of the brain and forming new memories.

By increasing these abilities, noopept can help you retain whatever you’re learning so you can recall it easier come exam time.

Noopept is also famous for its stimulating effects. It is one of the most potent nootropics out there, increasing the energy even in minimal doses.

Learn More About Noopept for Studying

12. Adrafinil

Adrafinil for studying, Adrafinil for memory

A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil

Adrafinil is an excellent alternative to Adderall if you are looking to stay up all night cramming.

This nootropic is actually a prodrug of the prescription drug Modafinil meaning that your body turns adrafinil into modafinil, but you do not need a prescription to buy it.

Adrafinil was initially created as an anti-narcoleptic drug to keep people up and alert for long periods.

This nootropic is used by militaries around the world to stay focused during taxing operations, and these effects can translate to studying for exams.

Adrafinil works by mildly stimulating your dopamine receptors (among others), although not nearly to the degree of Adderall.

This stimulation can give you an increase in focus and motivation while you study for long periods.

Adrafinil is legendary for its anti-fatigue effects, and it can help you power through a last-minute crunch.20Battleday RM, Brem AK. Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review, Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 21Milgram NW, et al. Oral administration of adrafinil improves discrimination learning in aged beagle dogs, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000 22Müller U, et al. Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment, and creative thinking in healthy volunteers, Neuropharmacology. 2013

It is also pretty sustainable, without any serious crash to worry. Be mindful that it can cause insomnia in too high doses or taken too late at night.

Adrafinil has a relatively low side-effect profile for the most part.

Learn More About Adrafinil For Studying

Wrapping Up

Is there a nootropic or nootropic stack for studying you swear by? Questions for our experts?

Let us know in the comments!

About the author:

Erik Levi, FNTP

Erik Levi is a co-founder of and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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