Take Note

August 11, 2004 1 min read

Food for Thought

The test-preparation company Peterson’s has announced its launch of a laboratory that will run tests to identify how a host of factors during preparation for exams, such as nutrition, exercise, music, and scent, may affect students’ scores.

The Princeton, N.J.-based company, which offers products that help students with the transition from high school to college, unveiled the Peterson’s Test Laboratory on Aug. 27.

Lab workers have already contacted people across the country to get information about the influence of various factors on test preparation.

Peterson’s has about 1,000 students who prepare online for tests such as the SAT and the ACT, said Gregg Driben, the president of the new lab. “So the environment [where they study] plays a larger role,” he said.

Several experts are looking at nutrition, fitness, stress reduction, colors, and scent, with the aim of determining the setting that prepares students to produce the best results.

“A great test-taker is familiar with the content of the test,” Mr. Driben stressed, adding that a solid academic preparation is critical to succeed on standardized tests.

Still, additional research, and tips into what might help during test preparation could help students get an extra 20 to 30 points on the SAT, he said.

It’s no surprise that the company has learned over the years that students are extremely anxious about taking tests. “We think that by giving them those tips, they can be more relaxed and confident,” Mr. Driben said.

Peterson’s has hired experts such as Ruth Roth, the author of Nutrition and Diet Therapy, who already gives a number of tips on the company’s Web site. She advises test-takers, for example, to eat foods such as cereals, peanut butter, and bananas because they produce a constant level of glucose, which is essential to maintaining a high level of brain function.

The company also plans to retain Pat Tunski, an expert on color and its influence on the environment, to work in the lab.

“Once we get some results,” Mr. Driben said, “we plan to go to the schools across the country and share this information with principals, guidance counselors, and students.”

—Tal Barak