Science-- there's something for everyone

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Improve your grades by drinking during exams

Here’s something for my readers who are facing finals week at colleges and universities. Chris Pawson and his colleagues from the University of East London have found that students who brought drinks with them into the exam room had better results than those who did not. Obviously, these were not alcoholic drinks, but water, soda or coffee.

The researchers factored in prior academic performance in order to rule out the possibility that the better students were more likely to brink drinks to exams. Adjusting for such confounders, they found that students armed with drinks did up to 10% better on their exams than their thirsty cohorts. The greatest benefit was seen among newer students who were just starting their college careers.

Because water was as helpful as sugared or caffeinated drinks, the improvement couldn’t have simply been a matter of being more alert or stimulated. A couple of possibilities are that pausing to sip something soothes frazzled nerves, and that staying well hydrated improves neural connections, both of which are assets when faced with challenging exam questions.