Dress Well, Test Well


It was totally acceptable for everyone to come in to school in sweatpants and t-shirts, hair in a bun and no makeup on during exam week in high school. This is exactly what I looked like walking into my first exam senior year of high school when I saw my friend dressed perfectly. This is when I first heard the saying "dress well, test well" or sometimes "dress good, do good." This is what she said to me when I questioned why she looked so nice for exams. It had stuck with me ever since, so I decided to look into the accuracy of it.

A study at Northwestern University looked into the effect of clothing on psychological process and performance. They use the term "Enclothed Cognition" to describe the influence that the type of clothes have on the psych of the person wearing them. "As a first test of our enclothed cognition perspective, the current research explored the effects of wearing a lab coat. A pretest found that a lab coat is generally associated with attentiveness and carefulness. We therefore predicted that wearing a lab coat would increase performance on attention-related tasks." A great point they made is the influence of not only the actual appearance of the clothes but the symbolic meaning that comes along with them. For example, a suit and tie is known by all to be professional, formal, official and maybe even convey intelligence, dedication and expertise.

Three experiments were performed in the study above. They all demonstrated that wearing a lab coat increases attention. The conclusion was that the influence of clothing is based on both the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical appearance. This is based on the following findings:

1. Attention did not increase when the coat was not worn or associated with a painter.

2. Attention only increased when the coat was a) worn and b) associated with a doctor.

Numerous more studies have been done to test this hypothesis. Another great example of this was a study done on the influence of the clothing worn in high schools, for both students and teachers. This looks at one's perception and impressions based on the way someone dresses. "Results indicate perception of intelligence and academic achievements are influenced by dress. Significant differences were found in perception of intelligence and scholastic ability for both student and teacher subjects based on clothing styles..." It's very interesting how it goes both ways. Not only are students influenced and hold a different impression of their teacher based on how he or she is dressed, but teachers hold different opinions and impressions of their students based on the way they dress.

In the end, the way one dresses is very important. Impressions are essential like observed in the second study, but dressing well has a great impact on your own performance as seen in the first study. Going back to the "dress well, test well motto, author of the book Freshman 50 and writer of the popular blog College Prepster states, "Dressing well can instill self-confidence which is necessary for test taking" (College Magazine).

It seems very logical to me. Most would agree that you, in general, feel better about yourself when you put effort into your physical appearance and know you look good. I definitely agree that impressions are based off of your appearance, and your confidence is the next best way to make a good impression. You will most definitely be more confident if you "dress well." 


I hear so many people say this around campus. And honestly I don't believe it. I tried it once and didn't really work. I think that being comfortable helps me do better on tests because I'm not thinking about what I'm wearing and if I'm comfortable or not.I found this article that tries to give you advice on what to wear to tests...I thought it was kind of funny: http://www.thecampuscompanion.com/svelte/2012/09/14/dress-well-test-well/#.UmlarmTwJss

This reminds me of an earlier blog I read about correct posture and memory enhancement. There are seemingly many effects on our mental state which result from the minor details in how we carry ourselves about each days activities.Employers have also confessed in a survey, for example, that their workers who dress well are more likely to nail promotions.Nice blog!! http://www.tesh.com/story/workplace-category/dressing-professionally-will-help-you-get-a-promotion/cc/9/id/14865

I actually just had an exam on Monday and before the exam, I was studying with a friend. He was dressed up in khaki's and a polo t-shirt while I was in yoga pants and a hoodie. He mentioned to me, "Dress well, Test well" but I just laughed because I don't believe it. In my opinion, I want to be comfy so I'm not stressing about my tight jeans and can instead focus on my exam. I believe that being comfy makes the exam seem less stressful so you can somewhat relax a bit more. I definitely get test anxiety so being less stressed is needed for me. It could all be up to preference but I enjoy wearing hoodies over khaki's so I think dressing comfy is the way to go on exam day.

I really don't think the way you are dressed has any effect on how someones tests. I think the only thing that really matters is how much effort and time you put into preparing for the exam. I may be wrong but i didn't read anything in this blog that mentioned a control being set for the people in the study preparing for their exams for the same amount of time. What i'm getting at is, the people that dressed better on exam day may have prepared more intensely, thus doing better on their exam than those who weren't dressed as well on exam day. In my opinion doing well all stems from preparation and knowledge. If you aren't prepared or you just don't know the material you are being tested on you aren't going to be tested on, regardless of how you are dressed.

I've always believed that when you dress well for a test, you end up getting better results. I'm not sure why but "dress well, test well" has stuck with me all through high school and definitely into college. In the article, Dress Well, Test Well?, it says that dressing in something other than sweatpants to an exam doesn't actually improve test scores, but it is more psychological. Essentially, dressing in baggy clothes while taking an exam and hinder your focus on the task at hand. Articles of clothing such as patterned leggings, a maxi dress or skirt, and soft jeans are all items that will help you stay comfortable while still dressing up a little!

One possibility is a reverse correlation, namely, those who do better on tests tend to take better care of there image and selves as a whole even when they are not taking tests. I'm not sure there's a causal connection between the two factors, however, I felt this point was worth bringing up.

In high school I was never the person to wear sweats to school not even if it was exam week, I'm not saying that it's bad to wear them it was never me. During finals week I would wear comfortable clothes but also look nice at the same time, I woke up at my usual time and got ready just like I did everyday. I know that if you sit in the same room and in the same seat, studies show that you will do better on your test since that is what is normal for you. Maybe we need normal in order to do well on exams and tests because it's like every other day in class, most of the time we like repetition and that's how it has always worked for me. I study for the test and I wake up exam day like it's any normal day just with an exam thrown in.

I have a friend that is adamant that "dress good, do good" is accurate and at this point it's basically her mantra. However, the thing that struck me about your blog was that you mentioned the symbolic meaning that comes along with clothes and how that can affect behavior and perception. For example, at my high school, our english classes were often heavily graded through numerous speeches, and our teacher would always make us dress up in nice clothes such as a skirt and blouse or shirt and tie. At the time, this seemed like a huge pain in the rear for a bunch of juniors in high school, but when you mentioned this, it made me wonder if it was actually the teacher's way of helping us to do better in any way that they could. Honestly, I feel like it was a little bit of that, as well as a little bit of just trying to be a huge pain in the rear.

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