Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Test Taking: New SAT

The new SAT will have one feature that stroke me as particularly interesting: as reported by the NYtimes:

"Some changes will make the new SAT more like the ACT, which for the last two years has outpaced the SAT in test takers. Thirteen states administer the ACT to all public high school juniors, and three more are planning to do so. The ACT has no guessing penalty, and its essay is optional. It also includes a science section, and while the SAT is not adding one, the redesigned reading test will include a science passage."

This might be a good thing when I think about Katie Baldiga Coffman's work:

Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess (Forthcoming in Management Science)
We present the results of an experiment that explores whether women are less willing than men to guess on multiple-choice tests. Our test consists of practice questions from SAT II subject tests; we vary whether a penalty is imposed for a wrong answer and the salience of the evaluative nature of the task. We find that when no penalty is assessed for a wrong answer, all test-takers answer every question. But, when there is a penalty for wrong answers, women answer significantly fewer questions than men. We see no differences in knowledge of the material or confidence in the test-takers, and differences in risk preferences explain less than half of the observed gap. Making the evaluative aspect of the test more salient does not impact the gender gap. We show that, conditional on their knowledge of the material, test-takers who skip questions do significantly worse on our test.

Apparently the ACT has a slightly lower gender gap in math than the SAT, I wonder if that is actually the case and whether someone looked at this.

I blogged about Katie's paper before (when she was still Katie Baldiga, here)

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