Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Teen Health

Font Size

College Drinking: Students Pass Alcohol Quiz

In Survey, Most Students Accurately Reported How Much They Drank
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 14, 2005 -- College students generally have a decent idea of how much alcohol they consume, especially if they're drinking beer, a new study shows.

"It's good news for people who do survey research," researcher Aaron White, PhD, tells WebMD.

"It suggests that when students self-report how much they drink that it's probably pretty accurate," says White. He's an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

But White isn't giving students an "A" on alcohol awareness just yet. He recently reported that college students flunked lab tests about standard servingsstandard servings of beer, wine, or liquor.

Midnight Pop Quiz

In White's latest study, researchers spent the wee hours of 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a college campus. Nearly 150 students agreed to have breathalyzer tests and detail what they'd drunk that night.

The researchers took the students' self-reported drinking to estimate blood alcohol content. Then, White's team compared the estimates with actual blood alcohol levels from the breathalyzer machine.

Overall, the estimates were on target or a little bit higher.

"Students who are on campus on the weekend and are intoxicated have a pretty good sense of how much alcohol they're actually consuming, which is I think very good news," says White.

Mixed Marks

In White's earlier study, college students were asked to pour out standard-sized drinks and to verbally define how much alcohol is in standard glass of wine, beer, or liquor.

Want a cheat sheet for that? Standard servings are:

  • Beer: 12 ounces
  • Wine: 5 ounces
  • Cocktail: 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits

The college students failed that test. "When they pour drinks, they tend to pour way too much," says White. Those with the most inflated definitions poured the biggest drinks, especially when they were using large cups.

That made him question whether students were underreporting how much alcohol they drink.

Real World Check

The on-campus test counters that. "I think the difference really has to do with lab vs. real world experience," says White.

"I would predict that if students were only drinking free-poured or self-poured drinks, they would underestimate how much they're consuming," he says.

"But in the real world, at least in this sample of students on campus, they weren't just pouring their own drinks. And so we didn't find a huge difference between actual and estimated blood alcohol contents," says White.

Today on WebMD

unhappy teen couple
mini cupcakes
teen couple
girl running with vigor
Sugary drinks
teen wearing toning shoes
young woman texting
teen boy holding a condom
Teen girls eating ice cream
teen sleeping
couple kissing
Taylor Swift