Should you change your answer? ...a question perhaps of particular pertinence to the students on this site.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:26 AM GMT
    When taking a test and you select an answer that you are not absolutely certain about*, should you go back and change it after thinking more about it or go with your first response?

    *Obviously, you wouldnt change an answer you are certain of
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:33 AM GMT
    Depends on the test. Sometimes an ambiguous question appears later in the test, but re-phrased and less ambiguous. In those situations, it's wise to go back and change your answer.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:42 AM GMT
    Sometimes at first you are not certain but it could happen that subsequent questions give you some kind of hint and then you go an change that answer.

    But the thing is that when you write an exam your time is limited, so at first you shouldn't be wasting your time on those questions your not really sure of, you just trigger the best you can do in the time you calculated should be the right one to spend in each question. It is better to guess with something youre not certain of than losing the opportunity to answer those questions you knew the answer for. So later on if the other questions were not such a problem and you had some extra time, then you can go back and think carefully about that question you were not sure about. In that moment your answer might change or not.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:46 AM GMT
    I usually skim through a test as soon as I get it and answer all the questions I know for sure / easy. Then I go back and do anything that takes more work / thought.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:50 AM GMT
    Depends on the test, as others have pointed out. 1. read your instructions...sounds easy, but most dont do it. 2. your gut is usually right, your instinctual answer is usually correct; that is if you know your material. icon_razz.gif
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:59 AM GMT
    Depends on how unsure you are. If your guess was educated, then your first choice tends to be spot on. If you had no idea and just picked an answer for the sake of putting something down, then you can go back and re think it.
  • Thirdbeach

    Posts: 1364

    Feb 20, 2009 4:59 AM GMT
    I think Cas is just trying up his post number.

    He really want to hit that 10000.

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    Feb 20, 2009 5:01 AM GMT

    I am reading this book...

    why_we_make_mistakes.jpg

    I am a bit too tired tonight to summarize the research on this. But there is an interesting psychological entanglement that comes into play here. I will give the "answer" tomorrow.
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    Feb 20, 2009 5:07 AM GMT
    Thirdbeach saidI think Cas is just trying up his post number.

    He really want to hit that 10000.


    No...

    1) I thought this would be of interest, especially to the students in this forum. I found the insight of the research to be interesting and intriguing

    2) It gives us something else to talk about other than underwear

    3) the Canadians seem to be a bit touchy tonight so I thought it best to move on to another topic
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    Feb 20, 2009 6:05 AM GMT
    I read the summary for that book. Pretty interesting.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:07 AM GMT
    My first response is usually the best one.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:10 AM GMT


    When you come back to the question to fix it you'll not consider the answer you already chose ... let's say u chose answer B, but when you come back to it you'll think of the question again but looking only at the A, C & D answers ..


  • pcsean28

    Posts: 161

    Feb 20, 2009 8:18 AM GMT
    My last big testing experience was the LSAT and it was like a cardinal rule not to change your answer on 3 of the 4 question types. They're all multiple choice but usually the correct answer doesn't necessarily look the best, and you're almost always down to two and end up just closing your eyes and picking one. If you go back, your head's not in the question anymore and you're likely to change your answer to one that looks better, but isn't necessarily.

    It's a fucked up test and I'm so glad I never have to take it again.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:24 AM GMT
    If the time is limited I usually just pick the most likely answer and forget about it entirely until I still have time. And then I'll go back and examine it more closely - usually I still leave the first answer on if it still doesn't make sense (i.e. totally a guess).

    If the time however is more than enough I leave it blank and come back later. Because yes, the later questions themselves will give you hints (sometimes even answers) on the earlier question, or give you new ways of looking at how the question was constructed based on how the others are done.

    When it comes to educated guesses. There are moments when you think of another way of looking at the question and realize that your first instinctive answer was really quite simply hasty. I would change answers then of course if the balance of 'the most likely' shifts toward the other. The focus in these cases when the answers seem ambiguous is usually the question, not the answers.


  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:44 AM GMT
    I have always heard that your first guess is usually the best.
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    Feb 20, 2009 9:25 AM GMT
    Really depends. I usually go with my first response and leave it alone but every now and then you get that one question that trips you up a bit and something about i just seems odd.

    Sometimes when I'm given enough time I go back over my test and end up changing afew answers. Sometimes it's a blessing and sometimes it's a curse but I usually end up getting 85 or above so I can't really complain.
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    Feb 20, 2009 2:42 PM GMT
    I think first instincts are usually the best..Everything we ever hear, read or learn stays in our brains somewhere..and I think on the subconscious level often the first thing that comes into my head is often the right answer. It's just the thinking about the question, that blocks the natural flow.
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    Feb 20, 2009 3:03 PM GMT
    The Answer:

    It is a commonly held belief that you shouldnt go back and change an answer. That your first answer is more often correct and you will only fuck it up if you change it.

    Research however shows that when an answer is changed, it is more often changed from a wrong answer to a correct answer than vice versa. So the old adage of going with your first answer appears to have no basis.

    So why the commonly held belief?

    Research is showing that we hold to our first answer....as we do in many decisions in life....due to the role of regret in the decision making process. We regret doing something more than we regret not doing something. If we do something, we feel more responsible for the outcome because we actively participated in it. If we dont do anything, then we feel less responsible. Therefore if we change an answer from right to wrong, we participated in the change and feel more responsible for the error and we regret it more. If we let an answer stand, we didnt participate beyond just answering the question...we didnt participate in changing it....and we feel less regret.

    We also remember things that we regret more and longer, than things we dont regret. Our regrets are magnified in our memories. So we feel more regret, remember the times we changed a right answer to a wrong answer, draw the conclusions that changing answers usually results in wrong answers, and tend therefore resist changing a first answer. ...even though in reality, changing answers tend to correct an error.

    --from Why We Make Mistakes, pg 51 - 54
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 20, 2009 5:08 PM GMT
    when ever i took tests i would just skip the question and sometimes questions later on would answer my question that i didnt know.

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    Feb 20, 2009 6:35 PM GMT
    If I'm unsure of a question, I generally flip flop on it for awhile, sometimes changing my answer multiple times.

    Often leaving it for awhile and answering subsequent questions can trigger the correct answer in your brain, so it is worth leaving it alone for a bit.
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    Feb 20, 2009 7:34 PM GMT
    It really depends on the test methodology. In some cases only the number of correct responses are computed. In some, wrong answered are weighted to subtract points. Sometimes blanks are computed and sometimes not. Also, if you can narrow down it down to a couple answers, there may be a benefit. As you take the test occasionally something else jogs your memory and the other answer appears to be more correct. If you really don't know at all, the first answer is probably best.
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    Feb 20, 2009 7:46 PM GMT
    haHA! That's pretty funny (under the guise of helpful) to post a question and then attempt to answer it based on one source of seemingly empirical 'evidence'...particularly from such a questionable source. icon_lol.gif

    The reality is NEVER as cut and dry as any study (or studies)...particularly without knowing the statistical significance of each. Top that off with test structure, content, and environment (among others) and you (Caslon9000) are surely passing on largely erroneous information. WTF?

    Meanwhile, as a student (as most others have mentioned), it really depends on the test, my familiarity with the information, what other information is presented on the test, the time I have, etc., and even then there is no exact science to slate the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of methodology.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:25 PM GMT
    I remember we HS students being advised (over 40 years ago!) that the first answers we gave on SAT & ACT college entrance exams were more likely correct than when we went back and changed them. Not sure how they determined that, but that's what we were told, to resist changing our original answers in most cases.

    As for myself, I agree with those here who say that sometimes a later question will provide the "missing piece of the puzzle" for an earlier question, and make me realize I was wrong the first time. So I will in fact go back and change that previous answer on occasion.

    Bottom line: I tended to max tests, at least back then. In fact, in HS, I illegally took the SAT & ACT for others, to get male friends into first-rate colleges (ID checks were very lax in the mid-1960s). I'd actually answer questions incorrectly, to avert suspicion from friends who had done miserably on earlier SATs, lest their retest be too spectacularly high and raise questions.

    I accepted no compensation for this service to my friends, BTW. Being a genius, as I was then before a motorcycle accident made me as dumb as a rock at age 19, it was merely a game to me. I was happy to do it for the mental exercise, and defying an elitist system I didn't respect.

    Ironic, because now people scorn ME for being so mentally limited, and no one comes to MY aid when I need help to overcome my intellectual shortcomings. Ah well, who ever said charity was a 2-way street?
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    Feb 21, 2009 12:26 AM GMT
    RandyMan said and you (Caslon9000)


    Did he just address Caslon? .....directly? ....OMFG!!!!

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  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 22, 2009 3:39 AM GMT
    RandyMan saidhaHA! That's pretty funny (under the guise of helpful) to post a question and then attempt to answer it based on one source of seemingly empirical 'evidence'...particularly from such a questionable source...


    funny pictures

    And just what the hell are you, but "one source"? ...and not even a researched source. ..I give my source so people can decide the validity of the response. ....so put up refuting research or just STFU