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What You Wear to a Test Can Affect the Results

Photo: Chris Ryan/Getty Images

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Here's one more important element to consider when prepping for important tests: Your outfit. This, according to a study from California State University that says wearing more formal clothing than one's peers can help improve cognition.

The study, synthesized in a report by Nautilus, asked 60 American undergrads to rate how formally they were dressed compared to other students, then asked them to fill out a 10-question quiz to test whether they chose more "abstract" or "concrete" answers. For example, the question "voting is best described as" had the answers "influencing the election" (abstract) or "marking a ballot" (concrete). Fancier-dressed undergrads tended to select the more abstract answers.

Naturally, abstract thinking isn't necessarily better than concrete thinking, nor is it necessary for all kinds of tests. Therefore, wearing formal clothing won't make you smarter, per se. Nautilus notes that for situations in which one must perform tangible, detail-oriented tasks (think engineering or working with your hands), it may be useful to actually dress down for the occasion.

Though the study may have obvious correlations to test-taking students, if your classroom days are over, think of it this way: Need to make a fancy presentation at work? Dress up. Tackling an advanced-level DIY project? Put on a flannel and avoid a spot on Pinterest Fails.