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Pastels are good for the brain

Schools seeking an edge in next year's exams should repaint white walls in pastel shades and waft essential oils around to create a "successful" ambience, a leading US test preparation firm says.

Peterson's, which crams thousands of American pupils, has hired lifestyle gurus including a fashion sage to advise schools on room colours and outfits that help boost grades and a perfume expert to identify the sweet smell of success.

Gregg Driben, president of Peterson's lifestyle consultancy, which charges students pound;175, said: "Yellow walls can stimulate the brain; while pale apricot can have a calming effect."

Pat Tunsky, creative director of colour at New York fashion consultancy, the Doneger Group, said on test day pupils should dress down in "comfortable jeans and T-shirts, cargo pants or utility gear". Scent expert Dr Joachim Mensing, suggested lavender oil which balances one's mental state or grapefruit oil which has an energising effect.

"We're looking at the whole person here, to build the best test-taker," said Mr Driben.

Meanwhile, another firm Princeton, based in New Jersey, has devised a special diet for those taking the school-leaving tests used for university admission including muesli, eggs, whole-wheat toast, orange juice and milk.

Mr Driben said his company's test diet included at least one glass of (skimmed) milk a day "to help with muscle function needed to keep your pencil within the tiny circles on the scoring sheets".

By this time, students will hopefully be feeling the benefits of special finger exercises the firm says help pupils "filling out those ovals on multiple choice grids".

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