Can 20 minutes of exercise before an exam boost your scores?

You’ve studied hard, had a good night’s sleep, eaten a sound breakfast, and now you’re ready for your big test. You may consider walking to the exam—20 minutes of activity, walking, running, or other exercise, has been shown to increase test scores.

Researchers tested those who got some exercise—usually aerobic exercise like walking, running, or playing—before a test, and compared their scores with those who didn’t get any exercise at all. They found that those who were active scored better on the tests, all other things being equal. Sure enough, the M.R.I. scans revealed that the fittest had heftier hippocampi.

Physical fitness may be crucial for maintaining a relatively youthful and nimble brain as we age, and especially during activities that require higher mental skills.

In addition, studies comparing brain activation in young people with that of people past 40, they have found notable differences, especially during mental tasks that require attention, problem solving, decision-making and other types of high-level thinking. Such thinking primarily involves activation of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. In young people, activation in the cortex during these cognitive tasks tends to be highly localized. Depending on the type of thinking, young people’s brains light up almost exclusively in either the right or left portion of the prefrontal cortex.

Another study is relating the neurological impact of sustained aerobic fitness in young people that is especially compelling. A memorable years-long Swedish study published last year found that, among more than a million 18-year-old boys who joined the army, better fitness was correlated with higher I.Q.’s, even among identical twins. The fitter the twin, the higher his I.Q. The fittest of them were also more likely to go on to lucrative careers than the least fit.

Bottom line—your physical health plays a substantial role in your mental ability—and a morning workout before your midterms or finals—or at least walking to the exam instead of catching a ride with a friend—may do you some good.


It’s interesting to know whether this is true for all ages regardless of genders. Generally it seems as if the fittest are the most successful. It’s not all about getting better scores but also getting the best of jobs. Exercise seems to be a likely factor in better achievements.

In all probability exercise is just benefiting the brain as far as science goes. I think for all groups cognitive abilities are boosted. It was said that the brain of the old person would act like a younger brain according to the research.

Interesting post, @rmn_t.

To add the breadth of this topic (without becoming too off-topic), I’d like to add a new idea: Brain teasers, by far, is the best exercise to do even since months before exam. It’s a kind of brain games that will give you mind-probing questions and trivias, but, I think you have already know it :slight_smile: I personally have undergone Neurolinguistic Programme (NLP) for 30 days, and the results were beyond excellence! My training experience in NLP doesn’t only boost my scores 2-3 times, but also train me to manage my time effectively, so that my scores will finally follow as it goes. E-books and presentations given exclusively for those wro trained are also helpful for me, in case I’ve already forgotten what my prior training did.

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