Beer binges barely alter test-taking ability

Beer binges barely alter test-taking ability

(Image: Rodrigo Sá)

Pity the poor college students who, in the name of science, had to get wasted as part of a recent study to determine the effects of binge drinking on test taking. Researchers from Boston and Brown Universities gave close to 200 students either enough beer to reach a breath alcohol content of 0.12 per cent or an equivalent volume of non-alcoholic beer (the beverages were switched during a second test, so nobody got stiffed). The students were administered a multiple-choice test the next morning. To stave off any potential disillusionment at their guinea pig status, and because free beer is clearly not enough of a draw, the students were offered free movie tickets if they did well.

About 70 per cent of the students reported some degree of a hangover during the tests, but researchers were surprised to find that those who binged the night before fared as well as their sober counterparts. The study concluded that drinking to a breath alcohol content of 0.12 per cent (about seven cans of beer for the men and five for the ladies) has no effect on next-day test-taking ability.

The study falls short, however, of exonerating hungover students the world over. For one, it found that mood, attention and reaction time were all affected by the binge. The participating students also stopped drinking by 10 p.m., which more or less invalidates the findings since that is when many college students (and bloggers) are just getting started.

Test-Takers Shrug Off the Effects of Alcohol [Wall Street Journal]
The effects of binge drinking on college students’ next-day academic test-taking performance and mood state [Wiley InterScience]
Next-Day Student Test-Taking Unaffected By Binge Drinking [Medical News Today]