Does drinking water before an exam help you do better?


Sitting at my desk I looked at the multitudes of empty plastic water bottles that I was waiting to recycle. I noticed that I had consumed more water than usual, and that I also had a great week academically. Could the two be connected? I found an interesting article that answered that question. It discussed the possibility that drinking water before an exam could make you a better student. Is this true? Could doing such a simple task actually improve my grades? After watching the people around me and realizing the number of students with and without bottles of water on campus, I decided to dig deeper. Is there another combination of events that causes this? It could be that a third variable is increasing the scores of those students whom are drinking water before an exam.

This possible third variable could be anything from prior experience with exams, students being more physically active and therefore are thirstier, or it could be that smarter students in general tend to be healthier and drink more water than the average student. That being said, we can safely rule out reverse correlation, because receiving a higher grade cannot cause you to go back in time to drink water before the exam.

A study conducted by the universities of East London and Westminster, examined the testing scores of 447 students. Only 25% of the students had a bottle of water with them during the exam. The researchers accounted for the students’ previous academic ability, and found that who drink water before an exam could expect 10% higher scores than those who do not. The study also showed that students who drink water before an exam are likely to have less test-anxiety. The action of drinking water briefly distracts the student and can alleviate stress and anxiety which can positively affect exam scores.

Water is necessary for our everyday life. Every part of our body utilizes water, including our brains. Water has been proven to aid certain processes such as absorbing metabolic heat. It has also been noted that water not only aids in the transportation and distribution of nutrients, but also helps us maintain blood volume. A recent study said that dehydration can negatively influence our cognitive functioning, specifically our short-term memory and our mathematic ability. In the experiment, participants were dehydrated up to 2.8% by physical exercise, or exposure to high temperatures. They were later given a series of test for memory, visual perception, and psychomotor skills. The study proved that dehydration negatively affected the participant’s cognitive ability.

So what can you take away from all of this? First, drinking water aids a number of bodily functions including cognitive function. Second, drinking water can reduce your test-anxiety. And third, student who consume 8 ounces or more of water before an exam are 10% more likely to receive a higher grade than those whom do not. Because a lack of water is proven to negatively affect cognitive ability, we can say with certainty that the consumption of water, and performance on an exam are directly related. Although we cannot completely rule out a third variable, it is unlikely the cause. These articles have shown that drinking water before an exam does positively influence your score and can ultimately improve your grades making you a better student. I because this is such an easy task, I can’t think of a reason why any reasonable person wouldn’t at least give it a shot. I know that I certainly will be drinking a bottle of water before Andrew’s next exam.






4 thoughts on “Does drinking water before an exam help you do better?

  1. Natalie Elizabeth Burns

    Great post! I think this is an interesting topic because most students are eager to go for the coffee or five hour energy over water before an exam or late-night study session. I think we too often forget how important water is. I like how you mentioned the point about how it can alleviate stress and anxiety and I wonder if there is a chemical component involved with that. I wonder if the chemical that is released when we’re anxious when compounded by the chemical makeup of water has this calming effect. This may be a long shot, however I think it would be something to look into!

  2. Margaret Marchok

    Victor- this post was very captivating. I drink a TON of water just because of all of the benefits it has, but I never knew it could be helping me with my exam scores. I found the study you included to be really interesting. I can’t believe the water-drinkers scored 10% higher than the rest of the exam takers. That is a major grade boost that can be attained by just drinking water. However, there is a voice of doubt in the back of my head that says water may have nothing to do with those grades. I feel like chance is definitely a factor here. Water doesn’t help you study or retain information- only your preparation for your exams can do that. However, I never rule anything out. Actually, your article reminded me of a study that was conducted to see chewing gum while you study can help you perform better on exams. I feel like you would enjoy this article-

  3. Alexander Nicholas Cautela

    Victor, your article was quite well-written and a pleasure to read. This topic is one I have been curious about for a while. My mother is always nagging me about how I should be drinking more water because she claims it has various physical and mental benefits. I for one have consistently denied this idea, but now there is overwhelming evidence that water can help you become a better student…so I’m in! Since you claimed that water can reduce test anxiety, I am now curious as to whether long-term hydration can help alleviate social anxiety and depression. This seems like a logical connection. Here is an article that considers that very hypothesis: Let me know if you find any leads!

  4. jgb5274

    I never actually thought about it that way that drinking water might influence academic performance. I often do think drinking some form of caffeine (mostly coffee) helps me perform better on tests and quizzes. I feel it gives me the energy to think the way I need to for the exam. Some times if I am in the middle of taking a test and get distracted or tired I will take a few sips of water and it seems to wake me up again but I’m not sure if it is just a correlation or if water actually causes us to do better.

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