What’s a better study drug: Noopept or Modafinil?

To find out, I took both

Nobody apart from your mum thinks study drugs are taboo (and the only reason she thinks that is because of the word drugs). In fact, study drugs are slowly becoming just another part of the university experience like disappointing sex and watching too much daytime television.

There are many people who oppose the use of these drugs, trotting out dull arguments comparing their use to the use of steroids in sport. But the fact is even the most stubborn of doubters will at least toy with the idea of using them during exam season.

11287098_10207256269670459_1085020509_nPersonal curiosity combined with a complete lack of motivation to revise led me to try two of the most commonly used study drugs legally available – Modafinil and Noopept.


Noopept (or “noopy” as it’s known on the street) is a smart drug from Russia which is becoming widely used at London universities.

As this drug is normally taken in a powder form, the most efficient way to take it is to snort it, just like Al Pacino in Scarface. The process of lining up was tricky due to the miniscule serving size (20mg) and the powder itself tasted nasty (always a good sign).

What did it do?

Other than a particularly vile flavour which lingered on the top of my mouth, there wasn’t much change to note. At most, I focused slightly more on my work and it made procrastinating less appealing. In truth however, these feelings were probably just me trying to convince myself I didn’t spend £13.25 on glorified paracetamol.

The website I bought the drug from claims it can help improve memory/cognitive function and uses scientific theory to back these claims, but in my experience that’s just not true.


Alertness – 2/5
Focus – 3/5
Duration – 1/5
Overall – 2/5

Value for money?

Excluding postage and packaging the drug itself works out to be 20p per serving which is really cheap…but sadly not cheap enough to ignore the fact it barely did anything.


This popular smart drug is prescribed for chronic fatigue and narcolepsy but off-label uses include everything from treatment of ADHD to control of cocaine dependence. Polls have shown one in five of us have taken this drug at university, so I was keen to see what the fuss was about.

I took the recommended daily dose of 200mg in the morning and started to notice differences after around 30 minutes.

What did it do?

The first thing I noticed was a subtle mood improvement and a more positive outlook towards revision. The stuff I was learning became more interesting and even the most mind-numbingly boring topics became bearable.


This wasn’t boring anymore

I found my thoughts flowed faster and more smoothly: perfect for essay writing. Furthermore, the speed at which I read and how much of it was sponged up by my brain seemed to increase as well.

On the other hand, the first year exam (40 per cent motherfuckers) I was revising for didn’t really have enough about it to scare me into revising for it. The drugs made no difference to my desire to procrastinate.

A five minute break to listen to music promptly turned into a 35 minute session of watching “how to” videos on YouTube.


I learned a lot from this

In truth, the only time it’s beneficial to take a break while using Modafinil is for food, which incidentally it makes you desire less (diet fans take note).

After around four to five hours or so, the subtle yet noticeable feeling of alertness was all but gone and I was left bitterly scrolling through posts on Azeem’s flute recital page, finding them far more fulfilling than revising.

To make matters worse, due to its long half-life, I found myself awake till 4 am too tired to do work and too awake to sleep.


Nevertheless, Modafinil made me more productive and it improved how long I was able to stay at my desk and work. At the same time the drug didn’t improve my motivation levels – I still found time to procrastinate.


Alertness – 4.5/5
Focus – 4/5
Duration – 3/5
Overall – 3.8/5

Value for money?

With its online price at around £1.20 per 200mg pill (recommended dosage), it isn’t too expensive and I found the positive effects seemed to justify the price tag.

What did I learn?

The best way to revise hard is to actually have motivation and fear of failure in the first place. If you’re a first year looking for something to give you motivation for an exam which doesn’t affect your degree then you need to look for an incentive beyond study drugs.

If you do choose to use study drugs, don’t waste your time with sub-par dodgy pills and powders such as Noopept. Something like Modafinil, which is actually effective, not addictive and recommended by other students is much better.

Please take care to properly research side effects of any study drug before taking it.