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Kegger Tonight, Test Tomorrow: No Problem?

Your head is pounding and you just threw up in front of Pattee Library, but you have to keep going. You’re on your way to that Accounting midterm that’s worth 45% of your grade. “Why did I drink 151 on a Monday?” you ask yourself as you prepare for the worst. But don’t panic just yet!

A team from Brown and Boston University recently found that binge drinking the night before an exam doesn’t necessarily affect test performance negatively.

While previous research has indicated otherwise, researchers from Brown and Boston University concluded that beng intoxicated on a given night did not influence test-takers’ scores the following day. This is because the alcohol did not affect the students’ long-term memory or ability to retain recent information needed for an exam. What it did affect, however, was reaction times and moods. So while you’ll still feel absolutely miserable trying to figure out the square root of pi, you’ll probably be able to slog through it.

Nevertheless, researchers were quick to warn,

We do not conclude that excessive drinking is not a risk factor for academic problems. It is possible that a higher alcohol dose would have affected next-day academic text scores. Moreover, test-taking is only one factor in academic success. Study habits, motivation, and class attendance also contribute to academic performance; each of these could be affected by intoxication.

The study was the first of this kind to be conducted as a controlled experiment; not with surveys. It was composed of 196 college students, ages 21-24, who were divided into two groups. The entire 196 were given an academic lecture on a particular afternoon. That night, one group was given beer and the other non-alcoholic beer, such that the alcohol group’s collective average blood-alcohol content was 0.12. The following morning, both groups took practice versions of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and quizzes on the lecture from the day before. The following week, the groups switched roles. The researchers found no difference in scores from one situation to the other.

So while it may be possible to work out complicated academic problems with a Vegas-sized hangover on your hands, suffering through it is probably not worth the extra night of tomfoolery. You can look forward to the upcoming weekend, but for now, keep your eyes on the prize.

[Photo: Toffiloff of Flickr]

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About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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