Here at 300 Hours, we share many, many tips on how to improve your CFA performance. The best way to get a full summary is to get CFA Insights (print copy on Amazon), or alternatively have a look through our past posts.
However, here’s a recent tip that our team discovered: chewing gum while studying for your CFA exam, and during the exam itself, will help with your performance.
We’re not talking “chew gum and you’ll not need to study ever” levels of performance improvement, by the way. But it helps – kind of like shark-skin suits for Olympic swimmers. Every little bit helps, and chewing gum seems to.
Here are our findings, and how you can utilise this information for your CFA studies.
A team of psychologists from the University of Northumbria have discovered that people who chewed throughout tests of both long-term and short-term memory produced significantly better scores than people who did not. The results provide the first ever evidence that chewing activity improves both long-term and working memory, and collaborates with research done by others – but it’s not clear exactly how it works.
Chewing activates your brain and delivers more oxygen to it
A possible explanation for this is that chewing increases activity in parts of your brain related to memory. Japanese researchers have shown that brain activity in the hippocampus, an area important for memory, increases while people chew. Chewing also increases your heart rate, and therefore increases oxygen delivery to your brain, enhancing its overall performance.
Chewing also improves concentration
Chewing gum has also been discovered to help you stay focused for longer on tasks that require continuous monitoring.
A study by Cardiff University involved 38 participants being split in to two groups. Both groups completed a 30 minute audio task that involved listening to a list of numbers from 1-9 being read out in a random manner. Participants were scored on how accurately and quickly they were able to detect a sequence of odd-even-odd numbers, such as 7-2-1. Participants also completed questionnaires on their mood both before and after the task.
The results showed that participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than the participants who didn’t chew gum. This was especially the case towards the latter parts of the task.
Interestingly participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end. This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.
So what should you do to help your CFA preparation?
- Try and make gum-chewing a habit when studying. While studying for your CFA exam, make sure you have a stash of gum handy. Some of you may not be natural gum-chewers, but remember everything helps, plus the sugar-free versions are good for your teeth too!
- Chew gum during the actual exam. If you’ve had a look at our exam check list, you’ll see that although the CFA Institute is pretty strict on items allowed into the exam hall, you can bring sweets and chewing gum with you. Use this to your advantage!
- Stick to the same flavour. Much like humming the same kind of music you listened to while studying will help jog your memory in the actual exam, always make sure that you use the same chewing gum flavour – this will help your concentration and memory on the actual day.
Do you chew gum while prepping for the CFA exams, or are you going to start doing so? Let us know what you think in the comments below!