Sunday, April 24, 2011

Have a Good Meal Before Exams

Back in college, I took a course in nutrition. The professor had worked with NASA while a doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley to develop meals for astronauts going into space.

NASA learned the hard way that ground control had to order the astronauts to take time for a meal while up in space. Many astronauts had reasoned that they would have plenty of time to eat once they returned to earth and that time up in space was precious. Therefore, many opted to forgo regular eating, focusing instead on getting their experiments done. Although at first glance that strategy certainly seemed reasonable, it was discovered that the mental performance of food deprived astronauts would actually decline significantly. These astronauts were making a lot of careless errors, actually ruining--or greatly reducing the value of--many of the very experiments that they were sacrificing their comfort to attack undisturbed. A policy was instituted to ensure that meals would not be skipped.

It can be tempting to squeeze in as much remaining time as possible before an exam to study. As shown above, this strategy can backfire very badly. Taking out time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner before the exam is well worth it.

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