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Impact of Preferential Rank Incentives on University Test Scores
Last registered on October 31, 2020


Trial Information
General Information
Impact of Preferential Rank Incentives on University Test Scores
Initial registration date
May 13, 2020
Last updated
October 31, 2020 6:44 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Chicago; Australian National University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This is a large-scale cluster randomized experiment involving over 14,000 undergraduate students at universities in the State of Assam and Meghalaya, designed to test the individual impacts of providing rank based financial incentives to low income or socially disadvantaged students in future high stakes anonymized university exams.

External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Roy, Sutanuka. 2020. "Impact of Preferential Rank Incentives on University Test Scores." AEA RCT Registry. October 31. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5841-1.1.
Experimental Details
The financial incentives in our experiment were given out on the basis of test scores in anonymised centralized university semester exams, which are set and marked anonymously. The experiment involved randomization at the cohort level. A cohort is a group of students taking a major course, in degree year "t", in faculty "f" in college "c" affiliated to university "u". Our cluster is a cohort. The untargeted incentive group (i.e., prize incentives for all) included two financial rewards for students in a cohort. In Assam (Meghalya), the first monetary prize, of 4,000 (5,500) rupees, was awarded to the student with the highest grade in the cohort, and the second monetary award, of 3,500 (5,000) rupees, went to the student in the top 40 % with the highest grade improvement in the cohort. The second treatment arm was socially targeted incentives (i.e., prize incentives only for the lower castes), where the same two financial incentives were given only to lower-caste students within a cohort: the first to the highest scorer from a lower caste in the cohort, and the second to the student who was in the top 40 % among lower-caste students in the cohort and who showed the highest improvement in scores compared with their previous university test scores. The third treatment was income targeting (i.e., prize incentives only for the poor), where the same two financial incentives were given to students with an annual family income of 150,000 rupees or less.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
student test scores in university semester exams that were incentivised in the experiment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
names of friends who studied in a group to prepare for the incentivised exams
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
It is a cohort level cluster design where students in a cohort are given rank based financial incentives for future anonymised university exams. The details are mentioned in the intervention section.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomisation done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
cluster (cohort level)
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
468 cohorts
Sample size: planned number of observations
more than 14,000 university students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We have 103 cohorts in the caste and 103 in the untargeted treatment arm, and 101 in the income treatment arm; the rest are in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)