Drugs & Health Blog

Can a Pill Improve Your Grades?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Some people think taking prescription stimulants can mean more As on their report cards.

Prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin are prescribed to help treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many people believe that taking stimulants if they don’t have ADHD will help them focus more, stay alert longer, and improve memory—all helpful to learning. But do these medications really make you a better student?

Definitely not.

Researchers have found that ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin do not improve academic performance in teens who don’t have ADHD. In fact, there is no evidence [page removed] that ADHD drugs improve grades even in those who do have ADHD. They help people manage their symptoms effectively, but that’s it.

The people at the top of the class aren’t abusing prescription stimulants to get there. In fact, the average person who abuses prescription stimulants:

  • Typically has lower grades than those who don’t abuse these drugs
  • Is more likely than other students to drink alcohol heavily and use other illicit drugs
  • May use prescription stimulants to party longer, and mix them with other substances to get high

There’s no “quick fix” to getting good grades. So, how can you improve in school? You could:

  • Study with a group
  • Make flash cards
  • Get enough sleep
  • Go to class and take notes

Do you have other study tips that help you get good grades? Share them in comments.

Check out NIDA’s Choose Your Path video “The Big Test” to make decisions about abusing Adderall to cram for a test and watch how the story plays out.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I Agree: the pill will not help i have ADHD and it doesn't even help me.
wrong! pop that pill it works
i agree
i have adhd it works for me im usually all over da place if not
What is that pill names
It does work! on top of my class now. Thanks Aderall.
if the drugs are needed then yes ut okay for people to take the m drugs. If you do not need them than maybe you shold leavve then alone
No, I don't think a pill can improve your grades because your learning skills come from understanding and remembering so how would a pill help.
a pill can not improve your grades in my opinion. people who believe they can take a pill to improve their grades are delusional. your body may not respond well to the drug you can become tired as well as sick. it might help you stay up but eventually you'll crash and wont be able to function right. to study properly you can take notes and do extra research.
Eat breakfast
doing stuff like that is not worth the headache,and the drug don't really help you if you trying to improve your grades.to improve your grades you can ask the teacher for some extra credit or something like that!
I don't think so because you have to study to understand and do well a pill will only help you stay up.
The pill doesn't have anything to do with your grade you control your own actions and get the grade you deserve.
I don't think taking a pill will improve your grades. Actually, i think it might make your grades worse because those certain types of drugs will not help you focus and will cause your grades to go down.
I agree that there no way of cheating to get good grades. The pills wont help you.
seriously my pill doesnt help with my adhd symptoms
well obviously the pill don't work if the boy said it don't work so I don't think the pill will improve the grades . Don't take the pill !!!
it is good to take pills but if it don't work then you should go to your doctor and let them know and speak to them about it and tell them it don't work but if they continue to tell you to take the pill then you should take the pill and continue taking it and see how it works within a year or month or two or more because it is important to take your pill !!!
Yes, I believe that its can aid you in improving your grades but I dont think it can take all of the credit only because it is only medication. The brain is a powerful vessel itself so it can do anything. It all depends on the persons mental abilities. Are they able to process certain information correctly? Do they have a disorder that is mentally challenging them? Also, how do we know the brain will respond to the medication? What if it rejects it? So in that conclusion I have mixed feelings.
pill works but only to help come you with adhd...... studying is the best
Pills that are appropriately prescribed and taken can stabilize moods. Better balanced moods improve the ability to focus. Better focus can lead to better study habits and increased retention of subject matter and may result in better grades. Pills are tools,not miracle panaceas.
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/89/1/25/ This article shatters the myth that "normal" people react differently to amphetamine than those with "adhd". Cognition was improved in both groups.

Thanks for sharing this study, Elston.  The results are very interesting.  This study only tested 29 children, so we'll reserve our judgment until the research community conducts larger, more generalizable studies.    

The thing is, I don't believe there's much evidence that "ADHD" or "ADD" brains are affected differently by stimulants. So, the burden of proof is on you to pull some studies out that show this. I think it's a myth and I think ADD is largely a cultural phenomenon caused by an excess of stimuli, etc... There are downsides to stimulants, like comedowns and tolerance. However, to claim that they don't help cognition at all is a blatant lie and pretty obvious to anyone with any first or second-hand knowledge of stimulants.
Look up a Dr. Paul Zak from California. I was diagnosed with severe depression at the age of 12. I slept ALL THE TIME. Im now 36 and was diagnosed with AADD 2.5yrs. ago and found Adderall made me fall asleep, but Vyvanse made me feel "normal" for the first time in my life. Just recently I saw a show with Dr. Zak and his findings. Im not sure how I feel about the whole stem cell stuff, but put simply, God gave our doctors His knowledge in certain areas where we may need help. Dr. Zak's findings show (as we all know)we begin as a cell. That cell grows with other cells attaching themselves to cells that become our legs, arms, pancreas, etc, etc, including our brains and every cell in our brains. When and IF one of these cells does not grow or grows extra cells, abnormal cells, creates our diseases and disorders, such as depression or down syndrome, etc. If God gave Dr. Zak the knowledge to use stem cells to grow the missing cells needed to cure my depression or ADD/ADHD, cancer, etc, etc, maybe drug abuse would be lowered to a controllable minimum and crime would go down, our kids would be safe, and I'm sorry, but if saving an umbilical cord could save a life and not sitting in my kids baby books, maybe this would be a good time for us "kids" to raise our voices. Dr. Zak, if you can figure out how to help me, I will be a guinea pig for you to make me "normal". And for you kids out there who are doing drugs, I know it feels good and you don't care about anything but feeling good and "normal", go visit a rehab center near you and watch how hard of a time the people who are going through withdrawals are having. It is SO EASY to say no, but it takes YEARS and a WHOLE HELL OF ALOT of PAIN to get off the drugs. So don't just say no. It's natural to be curious about things that you know nothing about, especially when it looks fun! Educate yourself by asking someone in rehab. Educate yourself how your family and friends will maybe disown you. And EDUCATE YOURSELVES on ALL the VOMITING, SELF ESTEEM ISSUES, HOT and COLD SWEATS, YOUR FACE TORE UP, ETC, ETC, ETC. and if you don't mind going through all that, go ahead and use, but you can't say you weren't warned.
I'd say "Hell to the No." and omfg that's a lot of words! Still inspiring, think I might write a book offa this now! Tyvm for da inspiration station :) I will creds u when mah book be published (even if you don't know me) also, typing this in my class XD
dont write so long
Here's a tip: Just stay away from drugs that aren't for you. Don't do it. Please don't. Trust me it won't help I have ADHD and it helps me NADA. None, Schiltch. So no no to dem drug users. *.*
This article obviously stirs up everyone's opinions on the matter, but I also agree that these pills don't help people improve their grade. I believe that people who have a lack of focus have a lack of focus, that is it. This pill helps them focus doesn't magically make them multiple letter grades smarter. With that said, I don't think any unauthorized persons should take the pill if their doctor has not given it to them, because then it could mess with the persons brain and make them have different side effects then they thought. In conclusion, the only way to get smarter, is to actually study more. Forget the pills and study.
Any drug authorized for a specific medical condition should be taken specifically for that reason and nothing else. All medications should be prescribed by a doctor and only taken by the person the doctor prescribed it to. Taking ADHD medication definitely will not improve your grades in school and is also very unsafe.
This article has proven many teens wrong in their thinking that prescribed pills (like Adderall and Ritalin) help improve their grades.The only people that the drugs help are those who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Even then the drugs are not proven to give the student higher grades, just help with balancing their symptoms of ADHD. So many teens are guilty of abusing prescription drugs in order to achieve better grades in school. The abuse of these drugs are so common in high schools among teens today, and it is an ongoing problem throughout our country. When these pills are not prescribed for them, they are abusing prescriptions drugs which can lead to fatal situations. There are so many negative side effects to these drugs that it is hard to believe anyone would take a prescription stimulant if it were not meant for them; for example, addiction, strokes, seizures, and even death. Why is this such a major problem today? Partly because prescription drugs are so easy for teens to get their hands on now. They are in family homes, relatives medicine cabinets, and easy to find among friends or groups at school; not to mention, how easy it can be to get a prescription from the doctor by just saying you cannot focus in class. My three siblings have all walked into the doctor's office saying they were having trouble in school focusing and their grades were in jeopardy. All three of them left having a prescription to Adderall, when really it was just exam time and they needed some help with studying and focusing. This epidemic needs to be controlled, and teens especially need to stop abusing prescription drugs. All medications prescribed by a doctor should only be taken by the person prescribed to it. Taking ADHD medication definitely will not improve your grades in school, and it is also very unsafe to take others medication. Adderall and Ritalin manages a person with ADHD behaviors; and controlling their behaviors better helps control their focus, which can help with their grades. The only way to get better grades and start focusing is changing your own habits. It is proven that Adderall and Ritalin do not improve your grades; and so we must make it clear to teens and drug abusers that they need to start study groups, make flash cards, take notes and show up to class regularly.
Technically the drugs don’t make students smarter in any way; they simply help students study for longer periods of time by increasing focus. This raises a whole plethora of concerns about whether or not the abuse of prescription drugs by healthy students is a form of cheating. After all, wouldn't it be the same as the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes? The Study Drug Diet is a great new campaign that aims to raise awareness about this serious issue. The best way to deal with this problem is to get young adults involved to build a stronger support network for people who are struggling with prescription abuse.
while it is true these drugs can increase the senses and allow u too focus more on school are we not then taking another chance of addiction for these young minds teenagers brain has not fully developed enough to stand the rush of dopamine given by these stimulants I believe this may be ok for some but we should approach this with caution!!!
no hable espenol
The best way to improve your grades is to improve your lifestyle and your study methods. So make sure to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise regularly and get organized with your study time. Allocate specific hours of the day to study and focus on the task alone.
If you take psychostimulants and don't actually need them you aren't doing much for yourself. According to my textbook for my neuroscience of drugs and behavior class, Ritaline was founded in the 1960s by Leandro Panizzon and Ritaline started to be prescribed for children with ADHD. ADHD was not accepted as a mental disorder until the 1980s. Doctors started diagnosing children with ADHD left and right and now the concept of ADHD doesn't have much purpose because doctors are diagnosing it so freely. Currently today, Ritaline is prescribed to 2/3 of children that have been "diagnosed" with ADHD and most of them don't even have ADHD. I feel like it is all about the money. Doctors diagnose a disorder and insist that the child must be medicated because they get paid by the pharmaceutical company. They really don't care about the well-being of the child, it's more about making money.
Leandro Pannizon founded Ritaline in 1944. In the 1960s this drug was used to treat ADHD in children. However, ADHD was not accepted as a mental disorder until the 1980s. If you use Ritaline and don't really need it you aren't doing much for yourself. You will only feel wide awake and wired for the short time that the pill is working. Ritaline is prescribed to 2/3 of children who apparently have ADHD. Most doctors don't really care if you have a disorder or not. It's all about money. They are so freely diagnosing ADHD because they make money from the pharmecutical companies by bringing in customers who need the medication. We live in a very messed up world.
Very biased post. I happen to use ADHD medication and they have drastically improved my grades. I went from a B-C to an A-B student, without studying for longer periods of time. Think about it, the pills enhance your senses allowing people to block out all the distractions that would deter a person from retaining information.