Blowing Bubbles For Brain Power and Better Scores

It’s sticky. It’s sweet. It’s in your back pocket.  And it might just make you smarter.

It’s gum!

On April 12, juniors will begin three  weeks of PSSA testing for reading, math, writing and science. As of now there is no gum chewing allowed during these tests, but if the rule is changed could it affect test scores?

According to a study done by Baylor College of Medicine and sponsored by Wrigley Science Institute in April 2009, “Those who chewed gum had a 3% increase in standardized test scores and had final math grades that were significantly better than the other students.”

“I think it could somewhat affect [scores] but I’m skeptical to accept results from Wrigley Institute,” said Angela Stiklaitis, head of the math department.

Will allowing gum during PSSA tests increase test scores? Photo by

Researches began to test 108 students between the ages of 13-16 by assigning half of the students to chew sugar-free gum while in math class, completing math homework and during math tests for 14 weeks.

The other half of the class would do these same activities, but without chewing gum.

The researchers concluded that the students who were allowed gum not only had improved test scores, but also had longer attention spans.

Would this make gum chewing okay?

“I think it would be alright [if they allowed gum]. However, their chewing could not be a distraction, but have to be polite and respectful,” said Stiklaitis.

Even students feel as if  helps them during class.

“[Gum] helps me concentrate,” said Joanne Cusatis.

“It helps stimulate your brain and keeps you focused,” added Abby Talbot.

And some students just like to chew it.

“[Class] is boring without [gum]. I like to twirl it too,” said Jaime Reel.

So whether chewing gum is just for fun, or for helping students concentrate, will it ever be allowed during the PSSAs is a question yet to be answered.

By Lindsey Ostrum and Mike Nitroy

3 thoughts on “Blowing Bubbles For Brain Power and Better Scores”

  1. This article poses some excellent questions for Social Psychology students and AP students to address: Did the Wrigley Institute conduct a good experiment? What potential problems are there?

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