'Brainy' friends may help you score better grades


Good grades may be contagious! Students surrounded by friends who are academically better may see their own grades rise, according to a new study.

"The smarter that your friends are today, there's a higher chance for you to become smarter as well tomorrow," said study co-author Hiroko Sayama from the State University of New York in Binghamton.

Sayama participating in a programme called NetSci, paired high-school students from Maine-Endwell High School in Endwell, with his research lab. The students came up with the idea of seeing how social networks affect grades.

The study tested whether academic achievement may be influenced by the performance of peers. The high schoolers had their 160 fellow classmates fill out a survey listing their best friends, close friends, acquaintances and relatives. They then got a list of each student's class rank from junior to senior year.

In general, students whose friends had a higher average class rank tended to see their own class rank rise from the junior to senior year in high school. The effect was modest: A student who ranked 100th among the class, and whose friends' average class rank was 50th, would rise about 10 to 15 spots, Live Science reported.

The high-school students who hung out with less-academic friends tended to see their grades fall over the same period. Sayama noted, however, that the absolute top students in the class didn't see their grades fall even though their friends inevitably would have lower ranks.

Peer groups may subconsciously influence behaviours like study habits, but overt peer pressure also could play a role. If your friend is acing her exams, for instance, you may think, 'I need to work harder to keep up with my friends,' Sayama told the website.

It's also possible that kids hoping to improve in school choose better students, whom they admire, as friends. So thosestudents' school performance improved due to motivation, not due to their friend circle, he said. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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