Curls for Higher Test Scores?

We all know what it’s like being a college student. We are all putting effort forth, some more than others, to obtain good grades and eventually graduate. The stress to get good grades can sometimes be overwhelming. I know that all my friends and I have spent long hours in the library before exams. That seems pretty consistent across campus. Sometimes I find it hard to fit other things into my schedule around exams and spend all my available time studying. You may think this is the best strategy to succeed, but, according to a study performed at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign by Alexander N. Slade and Susan M. Klies, how you spend your time outside of the library has an effect on your grades as well.

The study observed 408 first-year University of Illinois Medical School students, across four classes, beginning in 2006. The purpose of the study was to determine if regular use of campus recreation facilities had any effect on exam performance.  The study observed both the use of recreation facilities, determined by swipes of each student’s ID card at the facilities, and exam scores throughout the students first year on campus. Recreation facility use was only measured during the 21-day period leading up to each exam.

Students who attended a recreation facility daily or close to daily performed significantly higher than those who did not and averagedcr-graph-1 a whopping 8.3% higher on exams. Nearly 50% of the students observed did not attend a campus recreation facility at all during the 21-day period. While this skews the data, it can still be seen that the students participating in regular active recreation are consistently scoring above average.  Slade and Klies also determined that for each additional day that a student used a recreation facility on campus, they scored .18% higher.

While .18% may seem like a minute difference, it is still a difference.  Throughout your high school and college careers, how many times have you missed a grade by one percentage point or less? When you take the 21-day period leading up to an exam into account, an increase of 1% translates to less than two additional days in the gym per week. That is not a huge commitment.

As Penn State students, we have access to some of the largest and nicest recreation facilities in the country. Take advantage of them! Who knows, maybe a trip to the gym to blow off some steam could save your grade.




Works Cited

Slade, Alexander N., and Susan M. Kies. “The Relationship between Academic Performance and Recreation Use among First-Year Medical Students.” Medical Education Online 20 (2015): 10.3402/meo.v20.25105. PMC. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

3 thoughts on “Curls for Higher Test Scores?

  1. Candace Burke

    This makes a lot of sense to me. When I cram for a test the night before without any other stimulation, I find that I’ll blank the day of the test and forget almost everything. The idea that people who do other activities allows for the brain to relax for a little and absorb the information they were just going over. It may also be a stress reliever!

    1. Rachel Marie Aul

      While it is interesting that you found a study that shows using school facilities improve test scores, since you only mentioned one article, I’m wondering if the information is valid. We learned in class that studies are considered more significant if numerous similar studies yield the same results. Since there was only 408 students in the study you mentioned, it might be a result of chance. There could be third confounding variables that caused the outcome of higher test scores.

      I found another study ( ) that shows renovated classrooms and facilities contribute to higher scores, so perhaps your claim is valid. I think this is an interesting topic, and with more factual evidence, I would consider heading to the gym or other facilities more before studying for my tests!

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