I see ads on the television showing a Chinese mom supporting her child to study better by taking essence of chicken (which I am informed, tastes horrible). Other study aids I heard of is ginseng tea and ginkgo tablets. I know my mom made ginseng tea for me when I was studying and doing my thesis. I drank Red Bull as well to keep awake, I was not much of a coffee drinker back then though. More recently, ginkgo supplements made their mark in Hong Kong. My aunt said that a cousin of mine was under alot of stress, trying to stay at the top of the class and keep up with his other extra ciricular activities. So he decided to try out these gingko tablets, apparently it helped him to focus more on studying and retain information better. He was more alert, but he only took them when a major exam is near. Of course, he is doing well now training as a mechanic engineer, no more need for these supplements. What's worrying is that students are turning to stronger drugs like Ritalin and Modafinil. This BBC article shows the seriousness of the popularity of these tablets to help students stay on top of their game. Even the Times covered it last year. Maybe the education system is broken, it's not challenging the students, but having students learn off everything by heart for exams? I know the Maths cirriculum in Ireland will be changing due to many students dropping out of higher level. The articles asks if this is protrayed as cheating? Surely taking enhancement drugs in sports is cheating why not for students taking exams. I would be more concerned of the side-effects of these drugs.
The ritalin reminds me of a Simpson's episode of Bart being put on the drug resulting in some side-effects: The Simpsons 1102 Brother's Little Helper