The smell of coffee can help your test scores

By Kristen Underwood — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

Can the smell of coffee help me pass my exam? 

It’s that time of year again. The back-to-school season is just around the corner. While we’re all still trying to soak up the summer sun, we know homework, early mornings and tests are about to fall on us like a ton of bricks. But don’t fret! I’ve got a secret to help you pass those exams just a little easier. Coffee.


It’s no secret that coffee has an abundance of amazing benefits, such as helping people live longer, while also warding off certain cancers, heart disease, dementia, and inflammation. As if these reasons aren’t convincing enough to get a few sips in here and there, it turns out that just smelling coffee may be good for your test scores, too! A new study as shown in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, suggests that the addicting aroma of java has a placebo effect on people, which provides a cognitive boost for analytical tasks and an expectation for better performance.

During this study, researchers issued a 10-question algebra test to an estimated 100 undergraduate students in the business school. While one group tested in a coffee-scented room, the other tested in an unscented room. Results found that students in the coffee-scented room scored significantly higher than the other group.

A follow-up survey was conducted among 200 participants to question their perception of certain scents and how they may affect their cognitive performance. Surprise, surprise, most surveyors believed they would feel more alert in a coffee-scented room compared to a flower-scented room or no scent at all. Because of this outcome, researchers have found that the performance variations may have been caused by expectations. 

Believe it or not, subtle scents can help shape your employees’ or occupants’ experience with their environment. So, if you want to crush those exams, it may be worth a little whisper in your professor’s ear… brew some coffee and let’s get this test started.

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