[IPAC-List] Threatening a Penalty for Guessing

Joel Wiesen jwiesen at appliedpersonnelresearch.com
Tue Apr 27 12:13:22 EDT 2010

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Winfred.

Do I understand you correctly as saying it is standard practice to
correct both speeded and non-speeded test for guessing, but that you do
not do so for your (non-speeded) knowledge tests?

If so, why do you not correct for guessing?



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Joel P. Wiesen, Ph.D., Director
Applied Personnel Research
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Winfred Arthur, Jr. wrote:

> Joel, some general thoughts are embedded below:


> On 4/27/2010 8:19 AM, Joel Wiesen wrote:

>> If a test's instructions say "you may be penalized for questions you

>> mark incorrectly" and then the grading does not correct for guessing,

>> what might the effect be?

> well, my first thought is that the use of "may" makes this problematic.

> it shld state explicitly whether one is going to do so or not. "may"

> without specifying the conditions under which this will or will not be

> invoked seems to me to be a recipe for . . . well, problems!


> and whereas i have not seen any empirical rsch or data on this, the

> college board uses this instruction set for some sections of the SAT

> [they do not use "may"; they use "will"] and it is my impression that

> students are more likely to leave these items blank than guess when they

> do not know the answer.



>> Has anyone had practical experience with such instructions? Do test

>> takers pay attention to such instructions?

> not personally. indeed to the contrary, i use an instruction set that

> states that there is no penalty for guessing and so it is in one's best

> interest to guess if one does not know the answer. subsequently, i

> rarely get any non-responses. of course, these are knowledge tests.


>> Is there research on this type of ambiguous ("may be penalized") test

>> instruction?


> not that i am aware of; but then i have not done a lit search either.

>> (This particular instruction was used on a speeded (clerical speed)

>> portion of a longer test for a craft type job.)

> for what it is worth, it is common, if not stand practice to correct

> these types of tests for accuracy as well.


> hope this is somewhat useful.


> thanks.


> - winfred

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