How to boost your lonely looking D, to a HD with this underrated exam essential.

We’ve all experienced that last exam panic. The dreaded unit you really should have started studying earlier for. You spend the morning revising and race out the door, after slipping on a singlet, Adidas sweatpants and (mismatched) socks. And who can blame you? You’ve just pursued the UWA ‘impossible’ and crammed 12 weeks of content in 48 hours. You’ve been living in Reid Library and surviving on a diet of Nescafe, gum, and the vast array of food groups available from the campus vending machines. At 7 am, after 4 hours of sleep, what you’re wearing is the last thing on your mind.

For most of us, myself included, when exams start, style stops. Around exam time, you previously could have caught me looking like some hobo hippy circa 1978. Until, for better or worse, I came to the realisation I had been doing it all wrong. Exams were in fact included in that box of ‘special occasions’ between graduations, weddings and encounters with your ex that it is almost criminal not to dress your best to. But I’m not the first to reach this epiphany. Students all over the world refer to this as the “dress well, test well” theory. I discovered copious threads of students attesting that dressing well on the day of their exam not only instils self-confidence but also boosts their performance.

But I’m not going to bore you with too personal anecdotes. Instead, I’ll present you with the subjective science you so terribly desire. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology researchers found that the clothing we wear affects our psychological states and performance. Strange study short, some professor chaps conducted a test where three groups of students were made to wear a doctor’s coat, painter’s coat and street clothes whilst taking a series of cognitive tests. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, the students donning ‘doctors’ coats had heightened attention, sustained concentration and performed substantially better on the tests.

This grand phenomenon, my friends, is what scientists have called “enclothed cognition”. Which is just a fancy term for the ability of clothes to affect your cognitive processes through symbolic and abstract associations. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you should rock up to your exam in your lab coat.

In another study conducted by Professor Karen J. Pine’s, she found that students wearing t-shirts with the Superman logo on felt superior to students wearing plain t-shirts. Stating in her book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, “when we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it.” So, if your mind correlates a pantsuit with Beyoncé, you’re more likely to feel confident and subconsciously adopt attributes of a strong, independent woman.

Still not convinced? Did you know at Oxford University, exam uniform is compulsory? That’s right since 1636 students have been sporting an outfit known as “sub fusc,” which comprises of a white shirt or blouse with a bow tie, long tie or ribbon, a dark suit, dark socks or stockings with black shoes. You would think this would be the bane of their existence. On the contrary, everyone loves sub fusc. Everyone smiles wearing sub fusc. There’s been three referendums and students almost unanimously voted in favour of sub fusc! Some feel that the uniform actually makes them do their best in exams. Think they’re crazy? Remember these are students of Oxford University, they must know a thing or two about doing exceptionally well in exams.

So, how can you use enclothed cognition to smash your exams?


  • A get-up that makes you feel fly.
  • The aim is to find your ‘power outfit’ that makes you feel like a billion bucks and will give you an extra boost of exam mastering abilities.
  • So, if wearing Ray-Ban glasses gives you superhuman number-crunching powers, or a beret makes you write essays in French more eloquently than ever – it’s a winner!



  • Your PJ’s (even if your Guild Diary once advised you to). You don’t want to be that person who falls asleep, slobbers all over their exam, fails the unit and becomes a UWA confessions meme.
  • Dress like you’re about to embark on a Netflix binge and the only thing your brain will be able to comprehend is an Uber eats menu.

Take home message:  Clothes are not frivolous bits of fabric – they might just be your secret weapon when it comes to exams.

So, stop stressing and start dressing!

Susie Charkey

Susie is a Youtube prank addict in recovery.

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