The effects of stress on test taking and the sympathetic nervous system.

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Caleb Aho Connor Messmore Claudia Eustaquio Susan Kotowski


By Caleb Aho, Exercise and Movement Sciences; Connor Messmore, Exercise and Movement Sciences; Claudia Eustaquio, Exercise and Movement Sciences

Advisor: Susan Kotowski

Presentation ID: AM_A35

Abstract: The effects of stress on test taking have long been qualitatively understood by students and professionals alike. Studies linking stress and decision making have found that perceived stress results in elevated heart rate, higher skin conductance responses, and higher blood pressure. But how does this perceived stress affect test taking in a collegiate aspect? Our study aimed to understand the connection between one's mental state and their exam scores. We examined college age students and put them in common situations that many students face; having to cram for a test. We tested how this stress affected body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Test performance in terms of score was recorded to see if there was any connection between perceived stress and test scores. Did the sweaty palms, hot head, and racing heart actually lead to failure or did this stress kick the brain into overdrive and improve performance?

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