Webinar: Denni Tommasi, Monash University - Time of Day and High Stakes Cognitive Assessments

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Melbourne Institute Seminar Series

Title: Time of Day and High Stakes Cognitive Assessments

Abstract: Test scores are widely used as a proxy for cognitive ability, human capital, or individual productivity. Exploiting an ideal setting in which cognitive assessments are assigned at different times in a quasi-random fashion, we provide the first estimates of time of day’s impact on high-stakes exam performance. Specifically, using half a million observations on university students, we find that students perform better at lunchtime (1.30 pm) than in the morning (9 am) or late afternoon (4.30 pm). This inverse-U shape relationship is consistent with the idea that cognitive functioning is time varying and important for performance. A back-of-the-envelope calculation applied to an external context that is likely to benefit from our findings (i.e., college admission tests), suggests that a simple rescheduling can increase students’ permanent income.

Presenter: Denni Tommasi, Monash University

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