Don’t Get Too Cozy for Exams

By Mitch Hughes

Exams can always be stressful for students, especially when students have to spend two hours in a seat taking what is often a difficult test. The stressful situation and long duration of exams can make those big, comfortable sweatpants, oversized sweatshirts, and even pillows seem very appealing, but it’s entirely possible that the classic, cozy exam outfit may do more harm than it helps.

A study performed by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has yielded results that affect workers and test-takers everywhere. The researchers Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam concluded that the perception of one’s self is in fact related to the clothes one is wearing. A person dressed more professionally was more likely to perform well than their counterparts in the experiment who dressed too casually. This relationship between clothing and job performance is the reason many employers require a certain dress code.

Though students usually don’t see school as a workplace, the situation is quite comparable. Students spend seven hours a day doing work of various kinds and midterm exams are the evaluation of that work. Because of the similarities between a student’s work at school and that of somebody in the workplace, it is implicit that the clothing-work output relationship applies to students as well.

I’m certainly not saying that everybody should come to school in their Sunday best just for exams, but it is certainly important that students dress in a manner that promotes peak cognitive function. For male students this could be something along the lines of jeans or khakis, and any shirt that’s comfortable and functional. Female students should also stay with a casual-but-not-too-casual outfit. Obviously students have the freedom to dress as they please as long as it complies with dress code, but it may be to your benefit to maintain a casual attire and abandon the sweatpants.

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