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Emotion. 2011 Jun;11(3):691-6. doi: 10.1037/a0022946.

Opening up in the classroom: effects of expressive writing on graduate school entrance exam performance.

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Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California-Irvine, CA, USA.


Our study sought to determine whether experimental disclosure could improve exam performance and psychological health in students taking a graduate school entrance exam. Students preparing for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or PCAT were randomly assigned to write expressively about their upcoming exam or to a neutral writing condition. Participants completed measures of depressive symptoms and test anxiety before and after writing, and exam scores were collected. The experimental disclosure group had significantly higher test scores and significantly lower pre-exam depressive symptoms than the neutral writing group. Although benefits for depressive symptoms were found in expressive writers regardless of exam type, the advantage of expressive writing for test performance was only observed in students taking the MCAT or LSAT.

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