Researchers Uri Simonsohn and Devin Pope conducted an experiment to find out whether round numbers act as performance goals for test takers.
"We found that high school juniors were at least 10 to 20 percentage points more likely to retake the SAT if their total score ended in 90 (e.g., 1190) than if it ended in the most proximate 00 (e.g., 1200)."
Turns out that round number scores influence retaking decisions because of their effect on motivation. In other words, a student will try harder the second time if the first score is 580 rather than 610.
It’s like pricing something at $9.99 rather than $10.00 – you’re more likely to purchase at $9.99.
Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis