There are many “study hacks” that circulate around the internet. Thousands of articles populate the internet on the exact subject of how to conquer exams, do well during finals week, and generally improve your grades. One method I noted was that chewing gum can help you on exams because the gum helps you retain information. In high school, I was always told eating mints or chocolate can help you do well on exams because it stimulates the brain. But I never heard anything about gum. So I wondered, can gum really help you do well on exams? And how does it help?
The initial claim is that chewing gum while you’re studying, and then chewing the same type of gum during an exam will trigger a reaction in the brain that allows you to recall certain information. According to NBC, an experiment was conducted by undergrad students of St. Lawrence University. In the experiment, they divided participants into two groups: those who chewed gum and those who didn’t. After five minutes of chewing gum, the two groups completed a few tests. The results of the experiment showed that the participants who chewed the gum did better on the tests than those who did not chew gum. The enhanced memory benefits are not long term however, and lasted for about 20 minutes. Why does chewing gum improve memory and the brain though?
According to Scijourner, the motion of chewing makes your brain more alert and aware. Chewing gum during an exam can make you attentive and pay closer attention to the questions that you are given, and therefore improve your overall test scores. This makes sense too. According to livescience, chewing gum causes blood to circulate through the head and brain. As blood continues to flow through the brain, it causes you to focus more.
There were a few negatives to this experiment however, that make the overall hypothesis not as worthwhile. According to psychcentral.com, The study noted that the reason improved memory only lasted a short 15-20 minutes, is because chewing gum takes away energy that could be used to answer the questions instead. Chewing gum requires energy, but so does thinking about the test questions and coming to an answer. So, while chewing gum can be effective in allowing your brain to have a short burst of energy, this will not last forever and the effects will wear off in time.