Looking for a simple but effective way to improve your performance in a pending exam? What if we told you that simply chewing gum can boost your test performance, as one of your key exam prep techniques?

It sounds crazy, but some research backs up a link between chewing gum and improved performance.

Researchers were weirdly unable to pinpoint why exactly gum boosts memory, attention, and cognitive reasoning skills (among others)—but the results of different studies clearly showed that it does. Most likely, the minimal physical activity involved in the act of chewing has an effect similar to that of more strenuous tasks which will also boost test performances.

But beware: While chewing gum while studying or before the test can help you out for a while, this effect will not last, especially if you continue chewing during the test; it will merely become a distraction. Here are the details.

Chewing gum can boost your test performance

It seems too good to be true. Chewing gum can boost your test scores? Although it's definitely not the only factor in success, research has found that chewing some gum while studying can boost performances during exams.

Serge Onyper, an assistant Professor of Psychology from St. Lawrence University conducted a study that demonstrated that students who chewed gum for five minutes before taking a test did better on the test than non-gum-chewing students. In the study, a “battery of cognitive tasks” was given to the participants, who chewed gum either prior to or throughout testing. The performance of participants was compared with those who did not chew gum before the exam.

This boost is attributed "mastication-induced arousal”, which helps warm up the brain by increasing the blood flow to the brain. This small effect supposedly lasts for the first 20 minutes or so of testing. The study notes that a possible reason the benefits didn’t continue throughout testing may be due to “a sharing of resources by cognitive and masticatory processes.”

Interestingly enough, chewing gum while studying could also improve your focus by purely keeping your fidgeting brain active. This helps you focus on one thing only, instead of jumping from one thought to the other.

[Discover are more ways to improve your focus and concentration while studying]

The key takeaway from these studies is that, in general, physical activity can provide a productivity boost—even an activity as mild as chewing gum.

Study effectively to get the best grades

Of course, if you really want to improve your test-taking, you're going to have to do a lot more than just chew gum before the exam. For example, you should also develop effective studying habits. You may even want to check out the Internet's most effective flashcard learning app: Brainscape.

[See also: How to study effectively with LESS total effort]