Laurence Gough/iStockphoto; (inset) Bart Sadowski/iStockphoto

Read our COVID-19 research and news.

ScienceShot: Daylight Savings Hurts Test Scores

Add this to your list of worries, high schoolers: daylight savings time might mess with your college admissions. For decades, scientists have debated whether spring and fall time changes affect everything from seasonal affective disorder to traffic accidents. The idea is that resetting clocks by "springing forward" and "falling back" can upset sleep patterns and with them the ability to concentrate. Now, it appears that these time changes might just muck up performance on the SAT, the U.S. college admissions exam, which is administered five times a year, including two dates that fall after daylight savings transitions. Using data from Indiana, where until recently individual counties could opt in or out of daylight savings, researchers found that scores in counties that changed their clocks were consistently 16.34 points—or 2%—lower than in counties that did not, they report online this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics. That may not sound like a lot, but it may be enough to keep you out of Harvard. So choose your test dates carefully, kids. Springing forward could land you in your fall-back school.

See more ScienceShots.