Does Chewing Gum Increase Test Scores?


College is stressful at times, especially during midterm and finals week. Knowing that your overall grade depends on two or three major tests in the class is daunting. You freak yourself out enough to study until 2 a.m. and when it comes time to take the test, you blank. For some, this does not happen often, but in my experience it is more common than I would prefer.

So far, in my second semester as a freshman college student, I have learned several tips and tricks sworn by other students to use for better test scores. Most involve medication to enhance performance on test day but I have recently tried another alternative strategy to boost my scores; chewing gum. Some of my friends swear that if you chew a particular flavor of gum while studying, and then chew that same flavor of gum while taking the test, that you will recall more information. Other friends say to only chew gum on test day. So which method works best?

The answer depends on what type of test taker  you are. In my case, I know that midway through the test I get tired and can feel my mind drifting. I usually chew gum as soon as the test is handed out. This worked better for me than not chewing gum at all but I should really try waiting until the moment I feel my mind drifting midway in the test to pop a piece of gum in. In a UF Health Podcast by Alyson Fox, a study published in the journal Appetite found that chewing gum increased cognitive functions, particularly working memory. This is backed by another source which conducted research on 224 undergraduates at St. Lawrence University.

More detailed information is provided in the links below but the overall gist of such research is this; chewing gum may improve information recall by only a few words but those few words can make a big difference in test scores. I believe the chewing gum method for better test taking is a worthy method to try as opposed to taking medication; however, no one should rely on chewing gum to ace a test. Preparation is key.


How a Common Misperception Almost Lost Me My Uncommon Friend


I was recently misperceived by my best guy friend who saw my extensive amount of time spent with him as an indication that I had greater feelings for him. Despite his knowledge of my current relationship, he took every kindhearted gesture I made as a friend in a flirtatious way. In my mind guys and girls can be friends because friendship is based on internal connections and quality of time spent together; not gender. I did not see a need to restrict my personality or actions around him due to society’s gender boundaries. He, however, follows those boundaries.

At first, I was going to handle the situation by not handling it at all. I sent him a text saying that I felt as though I had lost who I was working towards becoming and needed some time to disconnect socially in order to reconnect internally. This was my own way of saying I knew something was wrong, but did not know how to deal with it yet. He fired back with text after text explaining how he felt. His eight paragraph-long texts shocked me into realizing that I actually needed to talk to him.

Once I gathered the courage to respond, I made sure to be explicit with my feelings and intentions since a lack in clarity seemed to be what caused the issue. We ended up not speaking to each other for a week and it was one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time. It drove me absolutely crazy.

When I finally reached a point where I had to talk to someone, I asked to talk to him. While talking to him now may mean staring over completely, at least I will have him as some part of my life again.

I still do not understand why friends of the opposite sex always tend to deem a good relationship as a potential romantic one, but I understand now more than ever that I value his friendship and will always fight for it.



Dorm Fever


For most students a four day weekend due to snow is a dream come true, but for some it is a nightmare in disguise. I welcomed the snow at James Madison University on Friday only to find myself praying that it would leave on Sunday. Born and raised in Williamsburg, Virginia, where two inches of snow is enough to cancel school for at least two days, I was amazed by the amount of snow here in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The snow was not only beautiful to look at, but fun to play in. I went sledding, had snow ball fights, and climbed a countless amount of snow mounds. All of these activities kept me active and happy for a total of one day. After Friday, I felt that I had a done all of the snow activities possible and therefore was left to slowly sink into dorm boredom.

Although cabin/dorm fever is a fictional medical condition, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a diagnosable and treatable wellness condition. The symptoms of winter SAD consists of irritability, low energy, oversleeping, cravings for foods containing more carbohydrates, and weight gain. The most apparent symptom I experienced over the long weekend was oversleeping. In my “normal” sleep pattern I wake up without an alarm at 7am. The weekend wintery depression, however, caused me to sleep in until 11am or later! I had no motivation to go to the gym or study. Instead, I binge watched episodes of Friends on Netflix.


To combat my sluggish tendencies during the snowy weekend I followed some lifestyle changes that all students experiencing SAD should try!

  1. Everyday, no matter how cold, make sure to spend some time soaking up the sun outside
  2. Open the blinds and let natural light into your room while studying
  3. Practice healthy habits by spending some time working out at the UREC on campus or at home, eat healthier foods, and limit caffeine

To the Stranger Who Said Hello


In a world that is constantly “connected” by the use of technology, there has never been an atmosphere filled with more disconnect. Each day I count the number of people on their phones in places filled with opportunity to learn about someone new. No one sits at a bus stop and talks to the person next to them anymore. I find it fascinating to learn about people, yet it seldom happens. The problem is no one would ever know my hidden desire to talk to strangers because no one looks up from their screen to ask. I want to have the courage to walk over to a stranger and start a conversation, but I am constantly discouraged when I see twelve out of fourteen people on their phones in the hallway. Why do so many people avoid the opportunity to at least say hello to one another?

Five days ago on my walk to main campus I kept my eyes open on the people walking towards me. Most of the people crossing the bridge to east campus had their heads down and eyes glued to their phones, except one. He was further away but we locked eyes and as a natural reflex I smiled and immediately looked down. Usually, if I smile at someone they either don’t notice or are close enough for me to pass them shortly after without them seeing me continue to smile. This man, however, saw me continue to smile as I looked down in an attempt to mask my satisfaction with our exchange in acknowledgment of each other. Then he unexpectedly said “Hey, how are you?”, to which I replied, “Good”, and continued walking. This may seem insignificant to most people, but to me it meant more; It meant that there are still people willing to look up and ask a random stranger how they are doing, it meant that there are other students who want to connect with each other and build our campus community, and meant that he cared enough to ignore his phone and acknowledge me. His comment was all I needed that day to remind me of the reasons why I love my school.

So, to the random stranger who looked up and said hello on Friday, thank you.

A Presidency Built on Imagination

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Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the first to announce that he would run for president in 2016, but he was not the first to imagine the beliefs on which he thinks this nation should be built. His presidential announcement at Liberty University emphasizes the re-ignition of “the promise of America” – that is, the reinstatement of the Constitution of the United States and above all, liberty – founded in 1776. His opening stories of his mother and father feature the hardships overcome through faith while his own story of managing two jobs and $100,000 in student loans for college highlights the all-too-common struggle in obtaining the American dream. Cruz repeatedly asks those in the audience to “imagine” different times and struggles in hopes of positioning himself as a legitimate candidate who would give the right wing republicans the country they desire.

Senator Cruz’s speech built on imagination engages the young, conservative crowd by constantly asking them to imagine a presidency. Cruz targets points of concern to college students at Liberty University such as a flat tax rate, a promise of multiple job offers after college, and a federal government which upheld first and second amendment rights and sought to end radical Islamic terrorism. His constant use of the phrase “Imagine a presidency where…” keeps his speech cohesive and purposeful; however, his constant reference to God and other conservative Christian issues could be a turn-off to the larger population of voters.

Senator Ted Cruz can orchestrate a speech worth while to a specific audience, such as the students of Liberty University, but such specific ideas and stances on global issues are sure to limit his popularity and votes. Personally, I found his presidential announcement to be well planned and spoken, but too focused towards only one voting group. His goal to “re-ignite the Constitution of the United States” and it’s sole belief system sounds appealing, but I feel that it can easily be used to distract viewers from his strong, right wing conservative views. Whether or not Senator Cruz can turn his imaginative presidency into a reality now rests in the hands of voters.