Children as young as 10 are smoking cigarettes and drinking energy drinks to prepare for their exams
A poll by market research firm Opinion Matters, of more than 1,000 youngsters who took Key Stage Two SATs last year, also found many are gorging on junk food.
It found eight had smoked on the morning of their tests, while 37 ate chocolate and 30 drank the high-sugar beverages.
John Coe, of the National Association for Primary Education, said: “A decent breakfast should set children up for success in their exams, and eating breakfast with friends at a breakfast club – and calming each other’s nerves about the tests – is a happy way of meeting the challenge to come.”
While most children eat cereal or toast for breakfast in preparation for their tests, 19 children said they had eaten crisps, 11 had sweets and 45 tucked into biscuits before even getting to the school gate.
Other pupils taking their SATs exams reported feeling so nervous about the impact of a low score in the tests and how it would affect their future, they could not sleep or eat.
Child psychologist Dr Claire Halsey said: “It’s troubling that children are expressing so many worries about their exams.
“It’s natural to experience some pressure to perform before any test, even at age 10 and 11, but these results show that SATs have become more than a little nerve-wracking.”
A second poll commissioned by Kellogg’s of more than 1,000 parents found 20 per cent believed their child was too nervous to eat before SATs exams, while one in eight said their youngster had refused food.
It found 18 per cent said their child’s behaviour got worse during the exam period, and 74 per cent felt their children were under more exam pressure than they themselves had been when they were a similar age.
Some 22 per cent of children reported losing sleep during their SATs, but the figure rose to 59 per cent among children who admitted skipping breakfast.
The findings come as thousands of Year Six pupils in England prepare to take their Key Stage Two SATs this week.
Following the survey Kellogg’s is donating 44,500 breakfasts to 300 school breakfast clubs to help children prepare for their SATs.
When it comes to exams there are many things that parents can do to help ease the pressure youngsters may be facing.
Working out a revision plan with your son/daughter and making sure they have all the essential books and materials will help throughout the revision period.
Also remember it is important to encourage your child to do well for his or her own sake rather than bribing them with money or to please you.