The Impact of Architecture on Academic Performance: How Exam Hall Design Affects Student Success

▴ How Exam Hall Design Affects Student Success
This study reveals how the design of a space can affect task performance, showing that students perform relatively poorly in their exams when they take them in large rooms with high ceilings.

Imagine you did everything right for your exam, made notes, studied well in advance, slept well, and even revised before the exam. Yet, your scores were lower than you expected. Surprisingly, the issue might not be with your study habits, but rather something else entirely. A new study from the University of South Australia and Deakin University uncovers a bizarre connection between academic performance and architecture. This study reveals how the design of a space can affect task performance, showing that students perform relatively poorly in their exams when they take them in large rooms with high ceilings.

Researchers evaluated over 15,400 undergraduate students across eight years on different university campuses. They considered prior academic performance and student differences in socioeconomic status, age, sex, and year of examination for standardized analysis. This extensive study revealed that the architecture of exam halls plays a significant role in student performance.

To further understand these findings, researchers conducted virtual reality (VR) tests. Participants were exposed to different room sizes while keeping environmental stimuli like noise and temperature stable. They measured heart rate, breathing, and sweating to gauge anxiety levels. The VR experiments showed that simply sitting in a larger room made it difficult for participants to concentrate and complete challenging tasks. When these findings were applied to real-life situations, similar results were obtained.

Large spaces are designed to create a sense of openness, making them ideal for social activities such as exhibitions, events, theatre, and gymnasiums. However, this vastness in space affects cognitive performance, hampering focus and task completion. In many countries, including Australia and India, university and school examinations are conducted in large halls to reduce logistical expenses.

The sheer size of the room, especially when it’s unfamiliar, is accentuated by its high ceiling. This can trigger anxiety, stress, and feelings of insignificance. These overwhelming emotions can be distracting and detrimental to academic performance. Additionally, large indoor spaces often accommodate more students than they can comfortably hold, leading to poor air circulation and negatively impacting both physical and mental well-being.

The study highlighted two main psychological impacts of large exam halls. Firstly, the unfamiliarity and vastness of the space can induce feelings of anxiety and stress. Students may feel overwhelmed and insignificant, which can distract them from their exams. Secondly, densely packed exam halls can lead to poor air circulation. This can cause discomfort and distract students, affecting their ability to focus and perform well.

Given these findings, researchers have called for a re-evaluation of exam hall designs. Examination halls should be modified to ensure students perform their best, without any environmental distractions meddling in their academic performance. Here are some recommendations based on the study:

1. Smaller, Familiar Spaces: Exams should be conducted in smaller, more familiar spaces to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Familiarity can help students feel more comfortable and focused.

2. Adequate Ventilation: Proper air circulation is crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Examination halls should be designed to ensure adequate ventilation to keep students comfortable.

3. Moderate Ceiling Heights: High ceilings can make students feel insignificant and overwhelmed. Moderately high ceilings can help create a balanced environment that is neither too cramped nor too vast.

4. Student Distribution: Examination halls should avoid overpacking students. Proper spacing can help reduce stress and improve focus by minimizing distractions.

5. Regular Evaluations: Schools and universities should regularly evaluate the design and layout of their examination halls. Feedback from students can be valuable in making necessary adjustments.


The findings from this study have practical implications for educational institutions worldwide. By re-evaluating the design of exam halls, schools and universities can create environments that are more conducive to student success. This can be achieved by implementing the recommendations mentioned above.

The study from the University of South Australia and Deakin University highlights the significant impact of architecture on academic performance. Exam hall design plays a crucial role in students ability to focus and perform well. By addressing the psychological and physical impacts of large exam halls, educational institutions can create better environments for students, ultimately improving their academic performance.

As students, it’s essential to be aware of the factors that can influence your performance beyond your study habits. If you find yourself struggling in large exam halls, consider discussing these findings with your school or university. Advocating for better exam environments can lead to positive changes that benefit all students.

By integrating these insights into the design of examination halls, educational institutions can help students achieve their full potential. The connection between architecture and academic performance showcases the importance of creating supportive and conducive learning environments.

Tags : #exam-hall #Architecture #student #Impact #Academic-performance

About the Author


Sunny Parayan

Hey there! I'm Sunny, a passionate writer with a strong interest in the healthcare domain! When I'm not typing on my keyboard, I watch shows and listen to music. I hope that through my work, I can make a positive impact on people's lives by helping them live happier and healthier.

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