Hit or Miss? Test Taking Behavior in Multiple Choice Exams
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.
We would like to thank Paul Grieco, Sung Jae Jun, Stephen Yeaple and Mark Roberts for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. We would also like to thank seminar and conference participants at the WEAI 11th International Conference, 11th World Congress of the Econometric Society, 30th Congress of the European Economic Association, Conference on the Economics of Health, Education, and Worker Productivity, Massey University Albany, Otago University, Victoria University Wellington, Hacettepe University, Sabanci University and Bilkent University. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.