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British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science

British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, ISSN: 2278-0998,Vol.: 4, Issue.: 8 (August)


Original Research Article


Reduction of Student’s Exam Grade Performance When Spending More Time in an Exam



Nicoladie D. Tam1*

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton TX 76203, USA.




Aims: This study aims to establish the correlation between the duration to finish an exam and the student’s exam performance quantitatively. The goal is to determine statistically whether spending more time in an exam can improve the exam grade performance.
Study Design: An advanced senior level undergraduate neuropsychopharmacology course and an introductory freshman level biology course were selected in this study to compare the student’s exam performance with respect to the sequential time order of the exam completion. Both courses had similar number of questions (50 multiple-choice questions) in the exams and similar enrollment size (>100 students), so comparison of the exam performance can be made.
Place of Study: Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas.
Methodology: Sample: 8762 student-exam samples were collected from 93 closed-book exams (50 exams from the biology course and 43 exams from the neuropsychopharmacology course). Population: University students enrolled in the above courses. Enrollment size: 90±24 (mean±standard deviation) students for the biology course and 99±11 students for the neuropsychopharmacology course.
Statistical Analysis: Cusum (cumulative sum) slope trend analysis statistics were used to quantify the statistical sequential trend of grade performance in relation to the exam completion duration.
Results: The results show there is negative correlation between the time a student spent in an exam and the exam grade. There is a 5% decrease in grade performance for those students who completed the exam last, compared to those who finished the exam first. This decreasing trend of grade performance exist for both courses, even though the students in the senior level course performed better by 6% in the class average than the freshman course. The consistent trend is that the above-average performing students are the first to finish the exam, while the below-average performing students tend to finish last. The 5% reduction in grade performance corresponds to half of a letter-grade in the A-F American grading system — i.e., a 0.5 grade point reduction in the GPA (grade point average).
Conclusion: The statistical analysis shows that the longer time a student took to complete an exam, the worse the grade performance. This is contrary to the common notion that taking more time to complete an exam may lead to better grades or may lead to an unfair advantage over other students. This provides insight to educators and students to decide whether providing extra time for students to complete an exam is linked to a better grade performance or a poorer performance, when more time is spent to complete an exam.


Keywords :

Exam performance; grade achievement trend; exam time duration.


Full Article - PDF    Page 1125-1139    Article Metrics


DOI : 10.9734/BJESBS/2014/9901

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