Admissions Transformation
Exams & Admissions
Membership / Notices to Members

Guessing Penalty Eliminated Beginning Fall 2022

When the Casualty Actuarial Society began administering the multiple-choice exams MAS-I and MAS-II in 2018, a 0.25-point penalty was assessed for each incorrect response to prevent a candidate from guessing correct responses. In September 2021, in conjunction with the release of the Admissions Transformation Plan, and motivated heavily by candidate feedback, staff and volunteer input, the decision was made to remove the guessing penalty. Effective with the Fall 2022 exam sittings, the guessing penalty for exams MAS-I and MAS-II will be eliminated.

The CAS is not the first notable organization to phase out guessing penalties for multiple choice exams. As described in this blog post written in collaboration with psychometric firm ACS Ventures, the SAT maintained a guessing adjustment on its multiple-choice exams until 2016, at which point the penalty was eliminated because recent psychometric studies “…suggested that the policy may have had an unintended effect on the interpretation of examinees’ scores.” The blog post goes on to explain the reasons for reconsidering the guessing penalty, and includes references.

While the guessing penalty will no longer be part of CAS multiple choice exams, there are no other changes planned for how the CAS administers the MAS exams in Fall 2022. Additionally, candidates, members, and employers can still expect the exams to maintain their reputation of high quality and rigor.