The Washington Post

Chinese students use IV amino acids to study for high-stakes tests

How’s this for extreme? Students at a Chinese high school hooked themselves up intravenously — with the help of teachers — to amino acid supplement drips to study for high-stakes exams in an effort to boost their performance.

According to the China Daily , high school students at Hubei Xiaogan No 1 High School in central Hubei province were using the amino acids to prepare for university entrance exams in June, believing the supplements would give them energy and improve their memory.

Teachers, trying to be helpful, helped rig the IVs to fixed iron wires in the classroom to hang the bags filled with the amino acids. And, the China Daily said, parents had asked the school to provide extra amino acids for their children, who were exhausted from school and studying.

A 17-year-old student who would only go by the surname Chi told China Daily: “I don’t think it’s inappropriate at all... Students preparing for the college entrance examination at our school began to take infusions of amino acids years ago and some of them took them more than twice.”

Here’s a CNN video about the story:

After this practice became public, the State Food and Drug Administration issues a warning about the misuse of nutrition supplements, the China Daily reported in another story .

“As the entry exams for high schools and colleges draws near, parents should be aware of health risks of some nutritional supplements and avoid giving their children these supplements excessively or irrationally,” said a statement from the administration.

The SFDA said it had never approved any nutritional supplements that “have the effect of improving IQ or cognitive efficiency.” Rather, it said that “good rest, proper eating and relaxation” would be more useful to students preparing to take exams.

American students go to their own kinds of extremes to get ready for high-stakes exams, including taking prescription drugs that are meant for people with ADHD, to help keep them awake, and, some say, make them think more clearly.

But IV drips? Let’s hope this method of test prep stays in China.

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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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