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Freshman Walter Anderson works on his sketchbook for art adorned in a tie and overcoat on November 9th. Photo by George Frey / Bearing News

Students dress for success

Dressing comfortably for tests may be a go-to for high school students, but studies correlated dressing well can improve performance. A study published by Northwestern University showed when research subjects wore a scientist’s or doctor’s white coat, they were able to complete the brain twisting “Stroop test” better than those not wearing a coat. The Stroop test occurs when a participant reads a list of colors, but when the color of the words of color are different, for example, the word green is in orange, participants take a longer time listing them.

Click the link to take the Stroop Test!

This also applies to the “dress well, test well” theory where the nicer or more professional one dresses, the better testing will go. For senior Riley Jones, dressing up for every test is a must; especially for standardized tests such at the American College Test (ACT), Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) tests.

“I think dressing up makes you feel more confident going into a test,” Jones said. “You feel like you have your life together, and that makes you have a little more faith in yourself and your own abilities.”

Not only does dressing well boost Jones’ positivity, but also the physical aspect of having to wake up early helps her testing as well.

“Making sure you get up early to get ready means you’re not rushing around and there’s no way to fall into that trap of hitting snooze eight times and missing the test,” Jones said. “Then, when you get to your testing center, you’re more awake and ready to kill it.”

While not a high stakes standardized test, senior Khalid Ibdah dresses up for his band district and state level auditions. He started this his freshman year because of other band members who were dressing up. Ibdah said this is a  tactic directors recommend.

“It makes me feel more put together and professional,” Ibdah said. “I think it all basically comes down to dressing for success. I feel more presentable when I dress up for auditions, and that can be a really nice confidence boost.”

Looking for success overall and not just during tests, senior Olivia Sowers likes to dress up so she can start her day feeling and looking great.

“I just think I will have a more successful day if I dress professionally,” Sowers said. “I also feel like it’s a way I can gain respect from my peers and teachers.”

Jones said she likes to take her mother’s advice since she encouraged her to dress nice starting in elementary school. Whenever Jones had a project or presentation in school, her mom would help her pick out a confident producing  outfit the night before.

When I took the ACT for the first time after eighth grade, it just seemed natural to me to dress for success,” Jones said. “I’ve always been really happy with my standardized test scores, so I think it’s something that really works for me.”

Also, Sowers’ family is an influence on her appearance. Her mother and grandmother inspired her to present herself to the public well.

“I’ve always liked to dress up. I’ve never been a fan of leggings or sweatpants,” Sowers said. “[My grandmother and mother] both have taught me how to dress nicely and classy.”


How do you dress for tests? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sarah November 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

This was an interesting story to read! I always thought that dressing comfortably during tests was the way to go, but I’ll remember to dress nicely next time I have one.

Ethan November 14, 2018 at 6:56 pm

wow I actually learned a lot from this article. I just think of a test like the ACT like a speech I have to give to 50 adults that know much more about what I am talking about then what I do. So dressing to impress the test and others around you is a great idea

Snowy November 29, 2018 at 12:35 pm

While I love dressing comfortably for tests because having itchy or just uncomfortable clothing would distract me, I am open to trying out this technique next time! Also, the link does not work for me.

Ross December 3, 2018 at 12:09 pm

I’ve always tried to be comfortable during tests, but I might have to class it up in the attire department and see how that turns out

Elliot B December 3, 2018 at 11:06 pm

I used to think that dressing for success was a little pointless. This article showed me the reasons and benefits for dressing up, and although I think some of these experiments can be circumcanstial.

Alma Jarbou December 11, 2018 at 6:59 pm

I love how this article gave me the pros of dressing for success. I might try it some time!


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