Cognitive fatigue influences students’ performance on standardized tests

Hans Sievertsen, Marco Piovesan, Francesca Gino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)
413 Downloads (Pure)


Using test data for all children attending Danish public schools between school years 2009/10 and 2012/13, we examine how the time of the test affects performance. Test time is determined by the weekly class schedule and computer availability at the school. We find that, for every hour later in the day, test performance decreases by 0.9% of an SD (95% CI, 0.7–1.0%). However, a 20- to 30-minute break improves average test performance by 1.7% of an SD (95% CI, 1.2–2.2%). These findings have two important policy implications: First, cognitive fatigue should be taken into consideration when deciding on the length of the school day and the frequency and duration of breaks throughout the day. Second, school accountability systems should control for the influence of external factors on test scores.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2621-2624
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Early online date16 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2016

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics
  • ECON CEPS Education


  • ECON CEPS Education
  • ECON Applied Economics


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