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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

The Effects of Odor during Study: Using Encoding Specificity on the Graduate Record Exam

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 11/01/2009
End Date 06/30/2010
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 09/21/2011 10:55PM
Keywords odor


  Claudia Lampman

Student Researchers
  Amy Ellerbe


In the competitive realm of graduate school acceptance, many applicants are looking for better study methods to prepare for the Graduate Record Exam. A pilot study comparing study and test conditions, conducted in 2008, showed that studying in the presence of an odor may increase test scores on the verbal section of the Graduate Record Exam. Considering the previous finding, I hypothesize that if the same odor is present during preparative study and sample test for the verbal section of the GRE, then participants will score higher during the sample test compared to participants who studied and tested in rooms with two different odors. If this hypothesis is supported then students would have a simple study technique to help prepare them for one of the most intimidating tests in the educational system, the graduate record exam. This experiment will use a between subjects experiment design aiming to include 52 participants randomly assigned to 4 groups, with all possible combinations of study and/or test in Odor A or Odor B. I hope to conclude that the same odor present during encoding (study) and during retrieval (test) will help produce higher recall on a multiple choice test.

Specific Aims: The specific aim for this project is to discover if there are better study strategies for standardized tests. If there are simple strategies such as using a certain perfume or hand lotion before study and test then students could use this strategy to better their scores on tests. This experiment would also add to the current body of research on encoding specificity and context dependent memory.

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