Evidence That It Works
Several studies have found that coloring mandalas or plaid designs, or free drawing helps to calm and focus upper elementary, middle school, and university-level students prior to taking a test.
Why Does It Matter?
Taking a test is one of the greatest fears experienced by students, and one that increases with age. Researchers suggest that structured coloring in particular–such as that of mandalas and plaid designs–helps students to experience a focused state, which can then help them calm their anxiety.
Interestingly, scientists have also discovered that the effectiveness of the different types of coloring may vary by age and gender. For example, free drawing was more effective in upper elementary boys than in girls, possibly because boys’ fine motor skills develop later than those of girls. However, mandala and plaid coloring rather than free drawing reduced anxiety in university-level students. Researchers suggested this might be because a structured form rather than a blank pallet allowed students to organize the “inner chaos” of anxiety.