Want a high test score? Take it early

Christopher Futcher/iStockphoto

Want a high test score? Take it early

Standardized tests. The name says it all: If your scores are lower than your peers, you’re probably below par. But many factors go into a test score, from scholastic aptitude and knowledge to growing up in poverty or affluence. Now, you can add one more item to that list: what time the test is taken. Researchers analyzed the test results of 2 million Danish school children between the ages of 8 and 15 to see whether the time of day they took their nation's comprehensive national test had any effect on performance. Because the test-taking schedule was determined by the availability of computers and class schedule, the timing was essentially random for the students. And the effect was clear. The later in the day, the worse the performance on average, amounting to a nearly 1% drop in scores per hour, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But there's some good news. Students tested after a half-hour recess got a 1.7% bump. So if you have to test them in the afternoon, at least give the kids a break.

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