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Should You Stick With Your First Answer on Multiple Choice Tests?

by S. Merritt on October 30, 2013

Evidence continues to mount that sticking with your first gut answer on your multiple choice test probably isn’t the right choice.

The standard advice for multiple-choice tests is: if in doubt, stick with your first answer.

College students believe it: about 75% agree that changing your first choice will lower your score overall (Kruger et al., 2005). Instructors believe it as well: in one study 55% believed it would lower students’ scores while only 16% believed it would improve them.

And yet this is wrong.

One survey of 33 different studies conducted over 70 years found that, on average, people who change their answers do better than those who don’t (Benjamin et al., 1984). In none of these studies did people get a lower score because they changed their minds.  <source>

Next time you’re faced with the age-old multiple choice dilemma, it seems that the best choice is to let your head rule over your intuition…

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