The Washington Post

Can chewing gum before a test improve score?

Chewing gum before taking a test may help improve the result, apparently by stimulating the brain with increased blood flow. That, at least, is what one study concluded amid a rash of research on the cognitive benefits of chewing gum.

An article in Forbes magazine cites several research studies about how gum chewing can possibly increase alertness, improve memory, lower anxiety and accomplish a host of other good things.

One study conducted by researchers at St. Lawrence University in New York tested several hundred undergraduates, asking some of them to chew gum before and during a test, another group to chew five minutes before being tested but not during the test, and a third group to chew no gum before or during the test.

They discovered, according to a story on LiveScience, that the students who chewed just before the test — but not during it — had improved performance, though the boost in recall and memory tasks lasted only about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, according to the results of a study conducted at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and published on the website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, The chewing gum increased accuracy on the test as well as alertness at the end of the test.

There is, of course, nothing even close to being definitive. But wouldn’t it be a hoot if a stick of gum turned out to be a great test-taking tool?


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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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