Hit or Miss? Test Taking Behavior in Multiple Choice Exams

Ş. Pelin Akyol, James Key, Kala Krishna

NBER Working Paper No. 22401
Issued in July 2016
NBER Program(s):ED

We model and estimate the decision to answer questions in multiple choice tests with negative marking. Our focus is on the trade-off between precision and fairness. Negative marking reduces guessing, thereby increasing accuracy considerably. However, it reduces the expected score of the more risk averse, discriminating against them. Using data from the Turkish University Entrance Exam, we find that students' attitudes towards risk differ according to their gender and ability. Women and those with high ability are significantly more risk averse: nevertheless, the impact on scores of such differences is small, making a case for negative marking.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22401

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Gabriel, Hearey, Kahn, and Vaughn w22668 Public School Quality Valuation Over the Business Cycle
Alfaro, Chanda, Kalemli-Ozcan, and Sayek w12522 How Does Foreign Direct Investment Promote Economic Growth? Exploring the Effects of Financial Markets on Linkages
Beattie, Laliberté, and Oreopoulos w22629 Thrivers and Divers: Using Non-Academic Measures to Predict College Success and Failure
Higgins, Zha, and Zhong w22402 Forecasting China's Economic Growth and Inflation
Cappelli and Conyon w22400 What Do Performance Appraisals Do?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us