Students drink their way to better results

James Redburn - News Reporter 30 April 2012

A study undertaken by the universities of East London and Westminster has found that students who bring water into their exams may achieve higher grades than those who don’t.

Using coursework results as control for ability, Dr Chris Pawson and his collaborators found that water-drinking candidates scored an average of 5% higher than their peers who didn’t bring water into their exams.

Of the 447 psychology students at the University of East London who were involved in the research, 25% brought water into their exam. The study looked at a range of students in their foundation-year, first-year and second-year of study.

The most significant alteration in performance was amongst foundation-year students, who experienced an average 10% rise, while second-year students experienced an average rise of just 2%. This suggests that information about the importance of staying hydrated should be targeted at younger students in particular.

Dr Pawson has suggested that consuming water may have a physiological effect on thinking functions as well as a psychological effect of reducing anxiety, both of which may improve exam performance.

Rosalind Peters, a first-year theology student at Magdalene College, had a more pragmatic take on the findings: “I’m not surprised at all, there’s nothing worse in an exam than being distracted by a dry throat. “There’s something psychologically boosting about being physically prepared as well, perhaps it makes you feel more in control of the whole situation.”

James Redburn – News Reporter