The Performance of Native Speakers of English and ESL Speakers on the TOEFL® CBT and GRE® General Test

Stricker, Lawrence J.
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TOEFL GRE General Test ESL test takers native speakers construct validity score interpretation


The purpose of this study was to replicate previous research on the construct validity of the paper-and-pencil version of the TOEFL® test and extend it to the TOEFL® computer-based test (CBT). Two samples of GRE® test takers were used: native speakers of English specially recruited to take the TOEFL CBT, and ESL test takers who had routinely taken the TOEFL® CBT recently. Native speakers performed well on the TOEFL® test, relative to ESL test takers and to the maximum possible scores on the test, and varied less in their test performance than did ESL test takers; TOEFL scores were highly but not perfectly correlated with the computer-based General Test scores for both groups of test takers; regressions of the General Test verbal scores on the TOEFL scores for ESL test takers were nonlinear, and the regressions of the other General Test scores were linear; and trends in the variances of the General Test verbal scores associated with TOEFL scores were also nonlinear, and the trends were either unsystematic or negatively linear for the other General Test scores. All of the findings are consistent with previous results with the paper-and-pencil TOEFL® test, support the construct validity of the TOEFL CBT, and illuminate its interplay with ability tests for ESL test takers.

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