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Does Guessing Really Help? SAT

Angoff, William H.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Guessing (Tests), Performance Factors, Response Style (Tests), SAT


This study examined the claim that attempting, or guessing at, more items yields improved formula scores. Two samples of students who had taken a form of the SAT-verbal consisting of three parallel half-hour sections were used to form the following scores on each of the three sections: the number of attempts, a guessing index, the formula score, and (indirectly) an approximation to an ability score. Correlations were obtained separately for the two samples between the attempts (and the guessing index) on one section and the formula score on a second section, partialling out ability as measured on the third section. The partial correlations so obtained hovered near zero, suggesting, contrary to conventional wisdom, that attempting more items and guessing are not helpful in yielding higher formula scores, and that, therefore, formula scoring is not disadvantageous to students who are less willing to guess and attempt items when they are not sure of the correct answer. (21pp.)

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