Resitting Or Compensating A Failed Examination: Does It Affect Subsequent Results? – Gospel Klint Kwame – Prof 2017/2018 SRC Chief Clerk


Institutions of higher education commonly employ a conjunctive standard setting strategy, which requires students to resit failed examinations until they pass all tests. An alternative strategy allows students to compensate a failing grade with other test results. This paper uses regression discontinuity design to compare the effect of first-year resits and compensations on second-year study results. We select students with a similar level of knowledge in a first-year introductory course and estimate the treatment effect of a resit on the result for a second-year intermediate course in the same subject. We find that the treatment effect is positive, but insignificantly different from zero. Additional results show that students’ overall second-year performance is insignificantly related to the number of compensated failing grades in their first year. The number of attempts that students need to complete their first year does not have a significant positive effect on second-year performance. We conclude that the evidence for a positive effect of resits on learning is weak at best


Pass or fail decisions are ubiquitous in higher education. Institutions of higher education need to decide whether students qualify for an academic degree or for advancement to a higher level of study. These decisions should be based on valid and reliable assessments of academic performance


This study is conducted at Ghana institute of Management Studies GIMPA. We use data from the bachelor programme in Economics & Business, which is the largest programme in the school. The nominal duration of this programme is three years. The first two years consist of obligatory core and support courses. In their third year, students specialise by choosing a minor and a major. Most courses are delivered using a combination of large-scale lectures and small-scale tutorials. During the period of investigation, no major changes in the educational system have taken place.

The curriculum is programmed in five eight-week modules. Each module consists of an 8-credit core course and a 4-credit support course. In the first year the 8-credit courses focus on core economics content, i.e. accounting, microeconomics, macroeconomics, marketing and organisation. The 4-credit support courses are mathematics (I & II), ICT skills, statistics I and financial information systems. In the second year, the 8-credit courses are international economics, finance, applied microeconomics, intermediate accounting and methodology.


The student-level data are collected from the school’s information system. These include the course grade (Grade) and the number of attempts that a student needs to pass or compensate a course (#Attempts). The variable Comp records whether a result has been compensated. It takes on the value one if a course is compensated, and zero otherwise. For each student, we calculate a credit weighted grade point average for the first (GPA(B1)) and for the second year (GPA(B2)).

The literature on study success in economics identifies a number of intervening variables that may influence students’ academic performance.

In a case of Koforidua Technical University where Resit examinations is deemed not an automatic pass, I pray and wish prospective continuing students and alumnus who will write their Resit examinations, may God grant them wisdom and understanding.


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