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September 02, 2010


This is silly. Won't the result metrics simply be adjusted then to account for the score inflation?

Hi, Ilya - if you don't penalize for wrong answers, you can't distinguish the student who knew what he was doing but was slow from the one who guessed many questions and happened to get some answers right. But we have to see what kind of questions will be on the new AP tests to understand why the College Board decided to no longer penalize wrong answers.

I used the SAT method in an undergraduate course in organizational behavior (the significance of the topic being mainly that the audience was not composed of students for whom the term "expected value" has meaning). Despite my explaining early on that blind-guessing had an average return of zero but "educated" guessing (eliminating one or more clearly incorrect choices) had a positive return, a number of students apparently were intimidated into skipping questions about which they were uncertain (and then complaining bitterly on evaluation forms about the "unfairness" of the system). Perhaps the College Board decided that something in the planned revisions called for greater encouragement of (presumably "educated") guessing. Like Ilya, I assume that the conversion from raw scores to interpretable results will end up being adjusted to offset the removal of the penalty for incorrect responses.

Thanks a lot for your perspective, Paul! Sorry it took me so long to post this. For some reason I didn't see your comment until now. I thought your experience in your course very interesting.

You're right, I think we underestimate how obscure concepts such as expected value can appear to people who have received little to no quantitative training. I would much rather see a situation where people take computer-based tests where some fields are left blank for the student to fill. The computer would grade the test immediately and it would be much harder to guess right if the student doesn't understand the material.

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