Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, are a fairly new trend among students, entrepreneurs, and overachievers. One of the most common questions we get is: What are the best nootropics for studying and preparing for exams? A big part of studying is focus, so check out our article on best nootropics for focus.

There are many different nootropics out there, but for studying for exams, the biggest thing you are looking for is focus and motivation. If you are cramming for a major exam, you are going to need to be able to stay focused for long hours and not get fatigued. Fortunately, this is the most common type of nootropic available, and there are plenty of options to choose from. In this situation, many people resort to pharmaceutical stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs are schedule 2 controlled substances and have a high potential for abuse. Therefore, it is not recommended that you take these if you are not under medical supervision.

So what are our top 5 picks for the best nootropics available for studying?

1. Modafinil

This one just keeps making our “top 5” lists. Now, it should be noted that this is a prescription drug and is a Schedule 4 controlled substance. Although you can buy the drug online from foreign pharmacies, in the United States it is illegal to possess or use the drug without a valid prescription.

Modafinil has been nicknamed “Viagra for the Brain” and is known for its ability to keep users focused and alert for long hours at a time. Because of its ability to keep people awake, focused, and motivated, this is our number 1 pick for best Nootropics for studying. Alternatively, you can look into Adrafinil which is currently available online and mimics the effects of Modafinil. The main issue is that it is expensive and not easy to get in the United States.

Here are Our Ratings for Modafinil:

Focus: 5/5
Alertness: 5/5
Memory: 4/5
Easy to Get: 3/5
Affordability: 3/5

2. Caffeine and L-Theanine

Like Modafinil, Caffeine and L-Theanine have made several of our lists. Caffeine / L-Theanine as a combo is a simple but highly effective nootropic stack. L-Theanine is excellent at balancing out many of the adverse side effects of Caffeine. Additionally, L-Theanine can improve focus and enhance Memory, which makes this combination perfect for studying. While it is not as strong as Modafinil, it is easy to access, and you can buy it pretty much anywhere, including

Here are Our Ratings for Caffeine / L-Theanine:

Focus: 4/5
Alertness: 3/5
Memory: 4/5
Easy to Get: 5/5
Affordability: 5/5

3. Noopept

Noopept is a powerful Nootropic that is similar to Piracetam, though it is about 1,000 times stronger. Noopept is widely considered to be great for studying because it is stimulating and also works to improve memory. It goes without saying that anything which improves memory is useful for studying since most of the studying is about retaining information.

Noopept, in my experience, is more subtle than Modafinil and Caffeine / L-Theanine. Personally, I like to use it in combination with other Nootropics. However, it is still a viable option, especially for people who are sensitive to stronger stimulants.

Here are Our Ratings for Noopept:

Focus: 3/5
Alertness: 3/5
Memory: 4/5
Easy to Get: 4/5
Affordability: 5/5

4. The PAO Stack

The PAO Stack is a highly effective triple stack that combines the properties of Piracetam, Aniracetam, and Oxiracetam. Using this combination gives you the individual benefits of each chemical, and they work well in synergy with each other. This overall increases cognitive performance in users. Aniracetam helps with cognitive enhancement but also assists in reducing anxiety. Piracetam is excellent for memory enhancement and improves recall. Oxiracetam is known to help increase the “logical thinking” of its users. All of these combined make it a beautiful combination for studying.

Here are Our Ratings of the PAO Stack:

Focus: 4/5
Alertness: 4/5
Memory: 4/5
Easy to get: 3/5
Affordability: 5/5

5. Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is one of the best supplements out there for improving your overall memory. Alpha GPC is naturally present in our bodies in small doses.Alpha GPC apparently works to increase a chemical in the brain known as Acetylcholine. This particular chemical in the brain is essential for improving memory and learning. Alpha GPC is not so much a stimulant, so personally, I like to combine it with stimulant Nootropics such as Caffeine / L-Theanine.

That said, Alpha GPC is sometimes known as an energy booster. Many users have reported that it gives subtle and consistent energy throughout the day. Additionally, Alpha GPC has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and overall increase your mental stamina. Because of these properties, Alpha GPC has made #5 on our list.

Here are Our Ratings for Alpha GPC:

Focus: 3/5
Alertness: 3/5
Memory: 5/5
Easy to Get: 4/5
Affordability: 4/5

Other Options

Besides this list, there are several other supplements or nootropics out there that can be beneficial when it comes to studying by relieving anxiety and stress. Here are two of them below:


Phenibut is mostly beneficial because of its anti-anxiety properties. One of the biggest things stopping many people from doing well on tests is stress and anxiety. Phenibut is fantastic at reducing anxiety and giving you an energetic sense of calm. Many users find it beneficial to take Phenibut several hours before a test to calm your nerves, though you should exercise caution with this. Phenibut is addictive and, if used, should be used sparingly. Also, users should be careful not to take too much, as it can be sedating in higher dosages.


Ashwagandha is an herb that can increase your tolerance to stress and help improve your ability to deal with stressful situations and anxiety. Ashwagandha can be helpful with studying and calm your nerves before an exam.


The primary goals with nootropics for studying are to improve memory, learning abilities, focus, and wakefulness. However, many people forget that stress is one of the most significant factors that can hold you back and make studying more difficult. Because of this, many nootropics like these can compliment each other, and users should focus on reducing stress as much as concentrating and reducing fatigue.