SA Journal of Education, Vol 44, No 2 (2024)

Do words matter: Investigating the association between linguistic features of accounting examinations and marks

Juan Mendelsohn Ontong


The use of linguistic features in school assessments, as well as the impact of these factors on the outcome of assessments have received limited attention in the literature. With this study I aimed to analyse linguistic features of accounting examinations. A quantitative technique, using tests for correlation, was employed to analyse the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate accounting examinations from 2011 until 2021. Advanced textual analysis software was used to identify connections between specific linguistic features and the marks obtained in these examinations. The findings of this study suggest that increasing the levels of linguistic features associated with analytical thinking, emotional tone and big words, which may be assumed to promote comprehension, may in reality be counterproductive, consequently potentially resulting in poorer marks attained in assessments in the future. The findings of this study are important for the creators of assessment to consider when developing accounting assessment. Given the effect of linguistic features on assessment results as identified in this study, it contributes to the debate on the use of certain linguistic features in assessment.

ORCiD iD of author:
Juan Mendelsohn Ontong -

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