Michelle Reynolds, Staff Writer
“Dress for success” is more than a saying, it is based in fact. What you wear can affect your grades. In the battle of you versus test, here’s everything you need to know about dressing for better grades.
Enclothed cognition is the influence of clothes on the wearer’s psychological processes and behavioral tendencies. Uloop.com reports that “Researchers found that people who put on a white doctor’s coat scored higher in tests related to paying attention. When they wore an identical white coat they were told was a painter’s coat, their attention improvement was negligible… The researchers concluded that for clothes to have this kind of effect they must be worn, and the wearer must understand their symbolic meaning.”
Nobody expects you to dawn a suit and tie or a lab coat for that matter, but The Daily Universe, a student newspaper of BYU, says, “those who were dressed more formally had improved test scores — not because dressing up made them know the material any better, but helped them have the right mindset to recall the information.”
However, what to wear can depend on what classes you’re taking. In a 2015 study, researchers conducted five experiments on 60 American undergraduates testing whether what you wore translated to what you scored. “The students ranked how much better or worse they were dressed compared to the average person, then answered a ten-question, non-academic survey that had two answers: one abstract, the other concrete…The abstract answer was much more “big picture” while the concrete version was more direct and conceptual.”
The results showed that students who suited up were more likely to choose abstract options while students wearing casual clothes were more likely to choose the concrete options. So what does this mean? Wearing formal business attire increases abstract thinking and might translate to better performance in classes that require creative thinking and long-term strategizing. Casual attire, on the other hand, were more suited for classes that required more concrete thinking, such as math, science, and engineering.
What you’ll wear the morning of a test is never anyone’s priority. However, here are some good ways to combat the morning rush, utilize your closet and improve your grade.
- Pick out your clothes the night before.
It sounds juvenile, but picking out your clothes ahead of time will make your morning more organized. Everything you can plan ahead of time saves you one less thing to stress about the morning of the test. Plus, when you wake up, are you mentally awake enough to pick out a cohesive, business casual outfit?
- Find the perfect mix of professional and comfortable.
Dressing up too much can actually hinder your scores. So don’t wear something you’re not familiar and comfortable with, such as pointy flats that’ll hurt your feet, shorts that’ll keep riding up, clothes that are too tight or too big, etc. Wear something you actually like, something you feel good in. This is what Uloop.com referred to as a “power outfit”. Just as we have an outfit for the club, dress accordingly for a test. That sweater you’ve had since high school is comfortable, sure, but it isn’t going to empower you like that nice button up.
- Dress in layers
You don’t want to be cold while taking the test or to be too hot. Simply bring a jacket with you, now you’re suited for any situation.
It’s a simple idea. Dress well. Test well. Nonetheless, let’s not kid ourselves, if you didn’t study, not even a top hat is going to help.