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Rise to the Challenge or Not Give a Damn: Differential Performance in High vs. Low Stakes Tests

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  • Attali, Yigal

    (ETS)

  • Neeman, Zvika

    (Tel Aviv University)

  • Schlosser, Analia

    (Tel Aviv University)

Abstract

This paper studies how different demographic groups respond to incentives by comparing performance in the GRE examination in "high" and "low" stakes situations. The high stakes situation is the real GRE examination and the low stakes situation is a voluntary experimental section of the GRE that examinees were invited to take immediately after they finished the real GRE exam. We show that males exhibit a larger difference in performance between the high and low stakes examinations than females, and that Whites exhibit a larger difference in performance between the high and low stakes examinations relative to Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics. We find that the larger differential performance between high and low stakes tests among men and whites can be partially explained by the lower level of effort invested by these groups in the low stake test.

Suggested Citation

  • Attali, Yigal & Neeman, Zvika & Schlosser, Analia, 2011. "Rise to the Challenge or Not Give a Damn: Differential Performance in High vs. Low Stakes Tests," IZA Discussion Papers 5693, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5693
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    Cited by:

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    2. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Jeffrey A. Livingston & Xiangdong Qin & Sally Sadoff & Yang Xu, 2019. "Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 291-308, December.
    3. Pelin Akyol & Kala Krishna & Jinwen Wang, 2021. "Taking PISA Seriously: How Accurate are Low-Stakes Exams?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 184-243, June.
    4. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Susanne Neckermann & Sally Sadoff, 2016. "The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 183-219, November.
    5. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Loviglio, Annalisa, 2019. "Grading on a curve: When having good peers is not good," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    6. Cortes, Patricia & Pan, Jessica, 2017. "Occupation and Gender," IZA Discussion Papers 10672, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Silvia Griselda, 2020. "Different Questions, Different Gender Gap: Can the Format of Questions Explain the Gender Gap in Mathematics?," 2020 Papers pgr710, Job Market Papers.
    8. Delaney, Judith M. & Devereux, Paul J., 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 14074, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Wehner, Caroline & Schils, Trudie, 2019. "Educational achievement and gender differences: The role of the interaction between emotional stability and conscientiousness," Research Memorandum 021, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    10. Xiqian Cai & Yi Lu & Jessica Pan & Songfa Zhong, 2019. "Gender Gap under Pressure: Evidence from China's National College Entrance Examination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 249-263, May.
    11. Jalava, Nina & Joensen, Juanna Schrøter & Pellas, Elin, 2015. "Grades and rank: Impacts of non-financial incentives on test performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 161-196.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; competition; incentives; GRE; high stakes; low stakes; test score gap;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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