The main purpose of this study is to explore which students of Estonian higher education institutions are willing to take low-stakes tests which have no direct consequences for them. Altogether 603 first-year undergraduates from different institutions of higher education participated in the study – 46.3 per cent of them took the low-stakes cognitive test. Female students were more willing to participate in the survey. Test-takers, compared to the students who did not take the low-stakes test measuring mental ability, had lower levels of self-evaluation and higher results in national examinations taken at the end of high school. Substantial differences between genders emerged. For male students, previous performance predicted test-taking activity, whereas no variables predicted test-taking activity in female students. When predicting test results, paradoxical relationships with motivation appeared – female students who had higher levels of motivation had lower results in the low-stakes test. It is important to take into account that when interpreting low-stakes tests significant differences could be overlooked when genders are considered together.
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