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How does drinking coffee affect student test performance?

Does caffeine help you do better on tests? 

Ah, finals week. The time to squeeze 16 weeks of art history into a 2-day cramming session. The time when you realize you probably should have attended a few more morning classes instead of hitting the bars the night before. The time when campus coffee lines are out the door and around the building, but you wait in it anyway because you desperately need your morning fix. 

Step on any college campus during finals week and you'll see students wearing the same sweatpants for days in a row, ferociously tapping away on their keyboards at the same table at the library, and surrounded by empty coffee cups. But does coffee actually help students perform better on tests? The key lies in drinking it in moderation and making sure you're staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.

About forty percent of 18- to 24-year-olds drink coffee every day. It helps students wake up for their 8 a.m. classes, balance school work with part-time jobs, and more. And because of the numerous health benefits of coffee, it can help students do better in school. 

Here's how it helps and a few tips on how to drink it: 

1. It helps you retain information 

Coffee stimulates your central nervous system and improves your alertness, concentration, energy, memory, and attention span — how perfect does this sound when you're trying to remember a semester's worth of material from multiple classes? 

2. Coffee is linked to lower depression rates

There's no doubt that college is stressful and that stress levels spike around midterms and finals. But studies have linked coffee drinking to lower rates of depression. Coffee activates neurotransmitters that control mood, including dopamine, and serotonin. 

3. If you already have anxiety, try another form of caffeine 

Caffeine affects everyone differently. If you suffer from anxiety, and are on medications for anxiety, you might want to get your caffeine fix from a more natural form of caffeine like green tea. Caffeine can increase stress hormones and affect neurotransmitter balance. Even those with a high tolerance for caffeine (especially Death Wish Coffee drinkers) can experience these symptoms if they aren't careful about consumption. 

4. Leave out the sugar and extra additives 

Don't buy coffee fueled with sugar and heavy cream if you can. Black coffee will help you stay more alert and will help prevent the dreaded sugar crash. Besides, there are a ton of benefits to drinking black coffee — and it's way cheaper. 

5. Stay hydrated to stay caffeinated 

Keep your coffee in one hand, and a bottle of water in the other. It may be tempting to consume nothing but coffee for an entire week, but it's not. Water helps your body stay hydrated and keeps away coffee jitters and headaches. This is especially important in the morning when our bodies are in elimination mode — drinking water helps energize us and makes us ready to take on the day. 

6. Actually get some sleep 

Even though all nighters seem to be the key to success in every college-related movie ever, they're not. A sleep-deprived brain will affect your memory and the information you retain. Coffee can keep you awake for hours on end, but don't fully depend on it to keep you awake all night — it's still important to get some sleep to make sure you're on your A game for your exam. Drink your coffee at at the right time of the day and even consider taking a coffee nap

Good luck on those finals! And if you need a strong brew to help you make it through, we've got you covered

Related: Here's why drinking coffee is actually good for you

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