Fact or Fiction: never change answers on examinations

I was recently evaluating the literature related to Evidence-Based practice in nursing and came upon a research article entitled ‘Never Change Answers on Examinations: Evidence-Based Practice In Nursing Education’, in the Journal of Nursing Education. This article pretty much dispelled what I have been telling students most of my teaching career; do not change your original answer on an exam because most of the time it will be to your detriment. The article discusses that “going with your gut” strategy for testing is not evidence-based. The majority of studies, past and present, suggest that when students change answers on their tests, they generally end up with a higher score than if they had not changed any answers. When I review an exam, I can tell by the scantron test form if a student has changed an answer on a question. I usually only monitor when they have changed a correct answer to an incorrect answer, and ignore the number of times that they may have changed an incorrect answer to a correct answer. This article recommends that students need to be informed that changing answers on a test can be beneficial and give them a higher score on the exam. When students review their exam they may feel regret for having changed their answer to a wrong answer. This article suggests that the students also look to see if they changed an incorrect answer to a correct answer, to minimize the feeling of regret for the wrong choices. It was noted that students do not have the opportunity to change their choice on their licensure exam, NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN, and maybe that should be evaluated for future testing, allowing for changing of initial answers.

“The bottom line is that faculty should not discourage students from changing answers. If anything, faculty should explain to students that changing answers, when there is some rationale for the change, may indeed be helpful.”

Submitted by: Rhonda McClain Marinette Nursing Faculty

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