A study says boozing wont affect test grades

USF student Jeffrey Gordon has heard of the idea that drinking the night before an exam could negatively affect test-taking skills. But, according to a new study, that’s not necessarily so.

The study by Boston University’s School of Public Health and Brown University found that binge drinking the night before an exam has virtually no impact on a student’s test-taking abilities.

The study included 193 students who were given alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks over the course of four days. The students who drank alcohol did so until they had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12.

At the end of the four-day period, participants were given a practice Graduate Record Exam and a quiz on a lecture they heard the day before. Students who drank alcohol showed the same proficiency as those who did not.

Gordon, a senior majoring in economics, said he wasn’t surprised by the study’s findings.

“I think as long as you are prepared before you get drunk, you won’t lose that information,” Gordon said. “Sure, you won’t feel so good that morning, but the preparation isn’t lost just because you got drunk the night before.”

However Jay Wolfson, a professor for the USF College of Public Health and Medicine, said students should be cautious.

“While those participants … may not have experienced adverse test-taking results on a standardized test within a controlled setting, we cannot infer anything whatsoever about the effects of alcohol on other kinds of tests and on academic performance overall,” he said.

However, it’s hard to completely interpret the study and its results, said Wolfson, who was co-chair of the President’s Alcohol Task Force a group that developed alcohol-related guidelines for the University in 2008 – without reading the detailed study that will be published in this month’s edition of the medical journal, Addiction.

A number of factors should be considered when evaluating the effectiveness of the study, including how students were selected, if they had any prior drinking behaviors, what type of pre-test was administered to establish test-taking histories and why .08 – the legal alcohol consumption level – was not used, Wolfson said.

“The report indicates that other personal factors, particularly related to mood and behavior, were measurably affected in the study,” he said. “That could be reflected in interpersonal encounters with teachers, fellow students, family members.”

Last year, 38 students were arrested for liquor law violations, said Penny Villicana, police services technician, compared to seven in 2008, 14 in 2007 and 32 students in 2006, according to the USF Police Department Safety Guide.

Although the study claims that binge drinking will have no effect on test taking, Wolfson said students should remember it has consequences.

“All members of our community are expected to adhere to standards of behavior that are consistent with (liquor) laws and regulations – and to be accountable for their behaviors in all USF settings,” he said.