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A Study of the Differential Impact of Curriculum on Aptitude Test Scores

Author(s):
Angoff, William H.; Johnson, Eugene G.
Publication Year:
1988
Report Number:
RR-88-46
Source:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Report
Page Count:
113
Subject/Key Words:
Aptitude Tests College Entrance Examinations Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Item Analysis Majors (Students) Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Sex Differences

Abstract

A sample of 22,923 students who had taken the GRE General Test in the academic years 1983-84 and 1984-85 and who had also taken the SAT four or five years earlier were found, and classified by undergraduate field of study (four major categories of curriculum) and sex. Several analyses were undertaken to determine the degree of differential impact that sex and field of study might have on GRE-verbal, GRE-quantitative, and GRE-analytical scores, after controlling on SAT-verbal and SAT-mathematical scores. It was found, first, that the correlations of SAT-verbal with GRE-verbal and SAT-mathematical with GRE-quantitative were extremely high, both for the entire sample, and within it, for the eight subgroups defined by field of study and sex. The impact of curriculum and sex was found to be low on GRE-verbal scores, but relatively high for GRE-quantitative, with students in heavily quantitative fields enjoying an advantage over their peers in less quantitative fields of study. The impact was moderate for GRE-analytical. Additional studies helped to clarify the results, but the basic conclusions remained unchanged. In a separate phase of the study an attempt, was made by means of Mantel-Haenszel analyses to identify the kinds of items that were relatively resistant to curricular and sex effects. Although the items differed from one another with respect to impact, they did not fall into identifiable categories that would make it possible to predict which items would be likely to show such impact and which would not. (113pp.)

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