Understanding Your Results

For more information about EPT and ELM cut scores or EAP statuses, see Results.

Reliability of Scores

The EPT and the ELM tests that you will take are similar, but not identical, to the tests that other students will take on different testing dates. Although the exact questions may differ, the format and the types of questions asked are identical from one test to another.

"Reliability" refers to the consistency of test scores over administrations. For example, on a reliable test, a student would be expected to get the same score regardless of when the student took the test and when the test was scored.

Reliability is measured on an index score of 0 to 1, where 1 means that the test has perfect reliability. Reliability indexes between .80–1.00 indicate a highly reliable test.

The EPT and ELM are highly "reliable" — you will earn pretty much the same score no matter which edition of the test you happen to take.

On average, the reliability of the EPT is .89 and the reliability of the ELM is .80, which suggests that both tests are reliable enough to ensure that the EPT and ELM will yield consistent placement decisions across different editions of either test.

Standard Error of Measurement

If you were to take the EPT or the ELM several times (with no new learning taking place between tests), it is highly unlikely that you would get exactly the same score each time you took the test.

This is because when you take a test such as the EPT or the ELM, several things above and beyond your proficiency in English and mathematics skills influence your responses — you may not be able to concentrate, you may mark your answer sheet in the wrong place even if you know the correct answer or you may guess the correct answer to some of the questions that are difficult for you. Because of these things, it is perfectly normal for your score to be a little different every time you take the same test.

Mathematically speaking, your "true score" — or the score that represents the perfect measure of your proficiency in English or Mathematics — is the average score you would receive if you took the same test over and over again lots of times. Any test score you get (no matter what test you take) is only an approximation of your true score.

Testing experts have a way of calculating how far (higher or lower) your actual score is likely to be from your true score. This calculation is called the "standard error of measurement," or SEM. The SEM for the EPT is between three and four points on the score reporting scale of 120 to 180. In other words, your actual score will typically fall between three and four points on either side of your "true score." The SEM for the ELM is between five and six points on the score reporting scale of 0 to 80.