Stimulant drugs that were originally intended only for kids who have ADHD have developed a reputation among older students that these drugs can help one study, stay awake longer, pay attention better, learn more, and hence they help to get better exam results.
So no surprise really that surveys reveal that about 1/3 of university and college students in the US (not likely to be any different up here) are taking drugs like Adderall in order to do better on exams.
But do the drugs actually help anyone get better results on tests?
Not much if they help at all, according to a study in the New Scientist, which found that students taking Adderall did improve on 2 out of 31 tests they took.
But before you leap up and say, “Hey, I’d love to get that much better on a test so where can I get me some Adderall?”, you should also note that the researchers found that students taking any drug including a placebo improved on some tests.
In fact, overall, the placebo takers did better than the Adderall users although not enough to make any substantial difference in outcome.
But the bottom line from such a result is surely this: Just expecting a drug to improve some type of cognitive score is probably enough to improve that cognitive function a bit.
So, take my word for this: To help you improve your test scores (and make your parents much happier), you will eventually be much happier by saving your money (and likely your parents money, too) for other things you might really cherish by buying a very cheap placebo (sugar — anything should be very cheap; if not, you’ve been taken) instead of buying a stimulant.