Researchers have found that students spending a few minutes just thinking about ancestors — deceased or alive –or writing about them prior to taking a standardized test will result in greater effort and better results.

The researchers wrote:

…thinking about our ancestors should mostly remind us about eventful and successful lives. Normally, our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of personal and societal problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines. So, when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities. In other words, because we are the successors of our ancestors and thus their genetic heritage, we tend to attribute successful problem-solving of our ancestors to our own problem-solving abilities.

They went on to conclude:

We showed that an easy reminder about our ancestors can significantly increase intellectual performance. Hence, whenever people are in a situation where intellectual performance is extraordinarily important, for example, in exams or job interviews, they have an easy technique to increase their success.

It certainly couldn’t hurt having students to this kind of exercise for a few minutes prior to a high-stakes project, like a standardized test.

I’m adding this post to My Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).