Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores

64 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016 Last revised: 16 Mar 2017

See all articles by Christopher Avery

Christopher Avery

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Oded Gurantz

Stanford University

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

We test whether signals of high aptitude offered to high school students shapes the course of their collegiate study. Mapping continuous raw scores from millions of Advanced Placement examinations onto the 1 to 5 integer scoring scale, we apply a regression discontinuity design to understand how students’ choice of college major is impacted by receiving a higher integer score, despite similar exam performance, to students who received a lower integer score. Attaining higher scores increases the probability that a student will major in that exam subject by approximately 5 percent (0.64 percentage points), with some individual exams demonstrating increases in major choice by as much as 30 percent. These direct impacts of a higher score explain approximately 11 percent of the unconditional 64 percent (5.7 percentage points) gap in the probability of majoring in the same subject as the AP exam when attaining a 5 versus a 4. We estimate that a substantial portion of the overall effect is driven by behavioral responses to the positive signal of receiving a higher score.

Suggested Citation

Avery, Christopher and Gurantz, Oded and Hurwitz, Michael and Smith, Jonathan, Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores (March 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2869233 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2869233

Christopher Avery

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4063 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Oded Gurantz

Stanford University ( email )

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

1919 M Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jonathan Smith (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

GA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/jonathansmithphd/

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