New paper – Drink availability is associated with enhanced examination performance in adults

Published in Psychology Teaching Review (2013), 19(1) 54-62

Chris Pawson (UEL), Mark Gardner (Westminster), Sarah Doherty (UEL), Laura Martin (UEL), Rute Soares (UEL) and Caroline Edmonds (UEL)


While dehydration has negative effects on memory and attention, few studies have investigated whether drinking water can enhance cognitive performance, and none have addressed this in a real-world setting. In this study we explored the potential benefits of the availability of water for undergraduates. The exam performance of students who brought drinks in to exams was compared with those that did not for three cohorts of undergraduates (n=447). We employed earlier coursework marks as a measure of underlying ability. Students who brought water to the exam achieved better grades than students who did not. When coursework marks were covaried, this effect remained statistically significant, suggesting that this finding was not simply due to more able students being more likely to bring in water. This implies that water consumption may facilitate performance in real world setting, and therefore, have specific implications for the assessment of undergraduate learners under examination conditions, but further research is required to evaluate this hypothesis.

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