by Hardly Waite
A study presented at a psychology conference in London in April of 2012 suggests that students who bring water to drink while they take exams may improve their grades. This is, it is assumed, because they keep themselves hydrated.
The simple act of bringing water to the exam was linked to improvement in grades, although hypotheses put forth by the researchers indicated that they had not the slightest notion why. It was suggested that having water reduced anxiety. The researchers did not examine whether the students actually drank the water, so this does not rule out the possibility that the influence may have come wholly or partly from just having the bottle there. Nor does it rule out the possibility that it was all simply coincidental that students who happened to take water into the exam scored higher and that neither the bottle nor the water had anything to do with the matter.
In all, 477 students took the exam. One important observation was that students in the higher grade levels were more likely to take water to exam sessions than students in earlier years.
The Medical News Today report on the research concludes:
[The chief researcher] said more research would be needed to tease apart these factors and their underlying explanations. But whatever the result, he suggests it is probably a good thing for students to try and keep themselves hydrated while sitting exams. Judging from the results of this study, it appears that first year undergraduates in particular need to hear this message. There is an implication here for education policymakers too: whether students, at all levels of education, should have access to drinks during exams.
The Pure Water Gazette concludes: A university psychologist was desperately trying to put an academic publication on his record and all the good subjects, like the influence of pencil color on penmanship, had already been exhausted.