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What test takers can learn from athletes about a 24% GPA boost and 13% increase in confidence

Grantly
November 21, 2018
“the GPA of [the] “brain training group” had increased by 24%… [and] a 13% increase in self reported confidence”
We know that athletes work out to perform at a higher level for their sport. Be it baseball, tennis, basketball, or soccer — it is understood that you will only be able to perform at the highest level if you are training your body. Not surprisingly your brain needs a similar type of “workout” if you want it excel on tests and projects. Doing math, writing papers, or creating art are all great “brain workouts”. Still, one brain workout has been largely ignored until recently.
Still, one brain workout has been largely ignored until recently…

Thousands of cutting edge scientific studies are finding the value of mindfulness-based brain training exercises for academic achievement. Just as an athlete works on cardio to improve endurance, a student should use a mindfulness-based practice to build up attention span. When an athlete lifts weights to get stronger, a student might use mindfulness to strengthen memory. The parallels between physical fitness and brain fitness are endless.

Mindfulness powered brain training literally increases the density of “grey matter” in our brain.
The connection between time spent in the gym and time spent with the aforementioned brain exercises continues if we look at the anatomy behind these respective gains. Mindfulness powered brain training literally increases the density of “grey matter” in our brain. Grey matter, the material made up of billions of neural-connections, is the critical building block for many of our brains most important regions. Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to increase the size and density of the hippocampus (the area of the brain associated with memory), the temporoparietal junction (the area of the brain that deals with language and attention), and the posterior parietal cortex (responsible for keeping us focused on the task at hand). If your team’s coach thought you needed to strengthen your biceps, you would do concentration curls. On the flip side, if you had a hard time focusing on tests, your tutor should recommend the appropriate brain training exercises.
If your team’s coach thought you needed to strengthen your biceps, you would do concentration curls. On the flip side, if you had a hard time focusing on tests, your tutor should recommend the appropriate brain training exercises.

So what is an easy way to get started with some “brain pull-ups”? Below is an easy ten step guide to begin practicing. If you have specific questions set up a meeting with a Granite Prep educator to discuss your goals and needs.

Enjoying the benefits of mindfulness isn’t difficult, nor is it particularly time consuming. The simplest mindfulness exercise (a breathing meditation) only takes ten minutes a day and goes something like this:
  1. Find a comfortable seat and sit upright

  2. Close your eyes

  3. Take a couple deep breaths

  4. Notice any sounds or scents in the room

  5. Notice the ground beneath your feet

  6. Notice what your breath is doing (don’t change it – just notice)

  7. Begin counting your breath 1 on the in breath 2 on the out breath (again we aren’t trying to control or influence our breath just gently count)

  8. Once you reach a count of 6 start back at 1

  9. If you notice your mind wanders just bring it back to whatever number you last remember being on. No need to feel frustrated with yourself, simply bring your attention back to your breath; you are building the “focus muscle” of your brain.

  10. Every time you get distracted and focus back on your breath you have done a “brain pull-up”

  11. After 10 mins is complete open your eyes and go about your day!
    Source: “Students with Test Anxiety Score 8-Points Higher (out of 100) After 3 Week Mindfulness Course

If you aren’t completely convinced yet, let the numbers speak for themselves. Below shows the results of a study conducted at the University of Almería, Spain. The study randomly split a high school into two groups; one group received mindfulness brain training, the other did not.
…after the training, however, the GPA of the “brain training group” had increased by 24% for the semester whereas the “no brain training group” didn’t see any change in GPA.

GPAs of the students were recorded and then compared to GPAs at ten weeks later. Before the training, the two groups had very similar GPA’s, after the training, however, the GPA of the “brain training group” had increased by 24% for the semester whereas the “no brain training group” didn’t see any change in GPA. The students who received the mindfulness training also saw an increase in academic confidence. These students enjoyed a 13% increase in self reported confidence. Once again, the group who did not receive any brain training did not see any change in confidence. The results from the study are shown in the table below (to read the full study click here).

If you are looking to bring your academic performance and self confidence to the next level, getting into a mindfulness practice to train your brain is a great place to start. Try getting in a habit of doing the exercise described above every morning or afternoon for ten minutes.
Just like with any exercise, you won’t start noticing the results right away. Just like it takes time to build muscle, it takes time to build our brain.
Just like with any exercise, you won’t start noticing the results right away. Just like it takes time to build muscle, it takes time to build our brain. That said, after staying with this exercise for a month or two you will likely begin to notice a sharper and calmer mind. For any questions about what exercises would be most helpful for your particular goals reach out to us at contact@granitetestprep.com or leave a comment below and we will answer!

*The Stats:

At Granite Prep we feel it is critical to maintain the highest integrity with our statistics, so we publish t-statistics and confidence intervals for all our figures. The t-statistic for the difference in academic achievement between our groups’ pretreatment was 0.846 (not statistically significant ). This is a good indication that the groups were infact randomly assigned. The pretreatment difference in confidence was 0.858 (not statistically significant), again speaking to the randomly assigned nature of the groups. The t-statistic of the difference between treatment and control groups after the ten weeks was: 3.62 (p<0.001) and 4.86 (p<0.001) for GPA and confidence respectively.
If you don’t know what these numbers mean, but you are interested check out this great course on research statistics!

Grantly Neely is a certified KORU mindfulness teacher, founder of Granite Test Prep and Nashville native. For more about Grantly and his amazing team of educators CLICK HERE

Sources:
Franco C., Mañas I., Cangas A.J., Gallego J. (2010) The Applications of Mindfulness with Students of Secondary School: Results on the Academic Performance, Self-concept and Anxiety. In: Lytras M.D., Ordonez De Pablos P., Ziderman A., Roulstone A., Maurer H., Imber J.B. (eds) Knowledge Management, Information Systems, E-Learning, and Sustainability Research. WSKS 2010. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 111. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg