Does Chewing Gum During a Math Test Improve Test Scores?

Researched by Miranda G.


The purpose of this experiment was to determine if chewing gum duringa test improved math test scores.

I became interested in this idea when I was chewing gum while doinghomework; it seemed to me that it was helping me to concentrate.

The information gained from this experiment would help parents, students,and any kind of educators to better understand how gum chewing affectsperformance.


My hypothesis was that chewing gum during a test would improve testscores.

I based my hypothesis on an article by Joan Weber in a World Book Encyclopediasaying, “Gum is known to help people concentrate.”


The constants in this study were:
*Student’s ages: 12-13
* The room temperature, noise level, lighting, etc.
* The room and arrangement (desks far apart)
* Type of Gum
* The tests given to the subjects

The manipulated variable was whether gum was chewed by subject duringthe math test.

The responding variable was score on math test.

To measure the responding variable I corrected each test and countedthe number correct.


40 12 to 13 yr old students
40 test 1 and 2


pieces of sugar-free gum

empty classroom
40 pencils
50-60 permission slips
1 experimentor's script
1 answer key



1. Obtain subject pool with permission slips.
2. Randomly create four groups with a similar amount of boysand girls in each group.
3. Prepare test for experiment.
4. Prepare room for experiment by separating each desk at least 3 feetapart, place a chair with each desk, and make sure there would be no distractions.
5. Collect students to be tested from their classrooms and show themto test room.
6. Give instructions (based on treatment group) to the students andanswer any questions that were asked.

Treatment Chart for Each Group
 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Day 1 Test A with Gum Chewing Test B with Gum Chewing Test A with NoGum Test B with No Gum
Day 2 Test B with No Gum Test A with No Gum Test B with Gum ChewingTest A with Gum Chewing

7. If students are currently in a “Gum Chewing” treatment:
a. Hand the students an envelope with a stick of sugar-free gum init.
b. Have the subjects take out the gum stick and start chewing.
8. Make sure each subject puts their name on the test.
9. Time the test with a stopwatch. Tell them to begin!
10. After 20 minutes, stop them. Collect all tests
11. If students are currently in a “Gum Chewing” treatment, also collectthe envelope with the piece of chewed gum inside.
12. Repeat steps 5-11 with every group for the current day.
13. On a different day repeat steps 4- 12 using the correct treatmentfrom the chart above and with subjects taking the opposite test.
14. Score all tests using answer keys.
15. Log the results.


The original purpose of this experiment was to determine if chewinggum during a test improved math test scores.

The results of the experiment were that chewing gum during a test didimprove test scores.

See the table and graph below.



My hypothesis was that chewing gum during a math test would improvetest scores.

The results indicate that this hypothesis should be accepted.

Because of the results of this experiment, I wonder if sugar gum wouldimprove test scores more.

If I were to conduct this project again I would test different typesof gum.



Humans have five basic needs: food, shelter, health, hygiene, and learning.Learning plays an important part in our lives. Without learning we wouldnot be able to survive everyday life. We use math as a basic skill butit is very advanced compared to our ancestors. We as humans have a naturalwant to learn.


“Math is the study of number forms, arrangement, and associated relationshipsusing rigorously defined literal, numerical, and operational symbols.”One of the most important things people must have to understand math isclear reasoning and logic. There are three parts to math: geometry, arithmeticand algebra. Geometry focuses on figures in space. Arithmetic focuses onnumbers and algebra focuses on equations. We use math today as an importantpart in every day life. Almost every job or career requires good math skills.


Gum is a type of confection that people chew but don’t swallow. Most peoplefind that gum chewing increase concentration and relieve boredom. Gum comes in varieties of shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors.

Chewing gum is made of gum base, sugar, corn syrup, softeners, and flavorings.Gum base is the insoluble part of the gum and keeps the gum from dissolvingin your mouth. In bubble gum, its base is more elastic and firmer so itseaser to blow bubbles. Sugar sweetens gum while corn syrup keeps it fresh,flexible and helps sweeten it. They use softeners such as vegetable oilproducts to help blend the ingredients and keep it soft by retaining moisture.

Gum varies on the gum’s type and shape. Generally, the gum base is ground,melted and purified first. All ingredients are blended in mixing machinesand poured onto the base. Then the sheet is lightly covered with finelypowdered sugar and sugar substances to prevent sticking and to providesweetness.


Learning is important because our success and survival depend on it. Mathis important because so man jobs, careers and daily activities requireit. Chewing gum increases concentration, so it might improve mathscores.

“Bazooka Bubble Gum” Topps

Copper, Allen. “Nervous System” The World Book Encyclopedia 2001.

Silverstein, Dr. Alvin. The Nervous System Brookfield, CT 1994 pgs. 14-17, 22, and 23.

Weber, Joan. “Chewing Gum,” The World Book Encyclopedia 2002.


I would like to thank the following people for helping make my projectpossible:
* My parents for helping and encouraging me while conducting this experiment.
* My subjects for all their efforts taking the test
* Several teachers for allowing the subjects to participate in my experiment during class time.
* Mr. Newkirk and Mrs. Helms for helping me with my project.

Top of page

Menu of 2003-2004 Science Projects

Back to the Selah Homepage