Students who drink water during their school exams may improve their grades, according to new research.
Researchers from the University of East London and the University of Westminster theorize that the water boosts academic performance by keeping the students hydrated.
The researchers analyzed the behavior of 447 undergraduate students, looking at whether they brought drinks into exams. If a student did bring a drink into the exam, the researchers also looked at the type of drink it was.
Students who were in higher levels of the university were much more likely to bring drinks into the exam than those in their first year of undergraduate study, the researchers note.
The results showed that those who took water into the exam — and presumably consumed the water — did better in the exam than those who did not. The researchers did not check to see if the water was actually consumed, however.
“The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in students’ grades,” said Chris Pawson from the University of East London, who led the study.
“There are several physiological and psychological reasons that might explain this improvement with water consumption.”
He raises the possibility that water consumption may have a physiological effect on thinking functions that result in improved exam performance. He also theorizes that drinking water may alleviate anxiety, which is known to have a negative effect on exam performance.
“Future research is needed to tease apart these explanations, but whatever the explanation, it is clear that students should endeavor to stay hydrated with water during exams,” he said.
These findings could have implications on school policies for access to drinks during examinations at all levels of education, he added.
They also suggest that information about the importance of keeping hydrated should be targeted at first-year undergraduate students who are less likely to bring drinks into exams.