Drink Up

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Apparently drinking a whole lot may not matter much even if a student has a test the next day. From Boston University’s School of Public Health comes news that:

Researchers from the BU School of Public Health and Brown University have found that surprisingly, binge drinking the night before a test does not impact college students’ test performance — although it can affect their moods, attention and reaction times.

The study found that intoxication in the evening did not affect students’ next day scores on academic tests requiring long-term memory, or on tests of recently learned material. Binge drinking did, however, slow participants’ attention/reaction times and worsen mood states — impacts that could affect safety-related behaviors, such as driving.

Apparently researchers tested almost 200 college students, giving them large quantities of either beer or nonalcoholic beer. In tests given the next day, the drinkers scored no differently from the nondrinkers.

The average male in the study consumed about 6.75 regular 12 oz beers and apparently had no difficultly on tests the next day. According to the study, however:

While our findings are discordant with results of survey studies that find associations between alcohol use and academic problems, these studies are potentially confounded in that a third factor (e.g. personality) may cause both excessive drinking and academic difficulties and causal order is unknown (i.e. academic difficulties could lead to excessive drinking).

While I sort of wonder how the placebo actually worked (If one consumes almost 7 nonalcoholic beers it becomes clear that something is a little weird. Eventually it would become obvious it wasn’t really beer.), it appears that alcohol itself doesn’t seem to be much of a problem in academic performance.

The study cautions, however, that:

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 test scores.

Yea, no kidding. Like I’m pretty sure when someone has 15 beers he probably wouldn’t get up in time for a test the next day at all.

The study, “The effects of binge drinking on college students’ next-day academic test-taking performance and mood state,” will be published in the April 2010 edition of the journal Addiction. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer