Relationship of Admission Test Scores to Writing Performance of Native and Nonnative Speakers of English

Carlson, Sybil B.; Bridgeman, Brent; Camp, Roberta; Waanders, Janet
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-83-02R / TOEFL-RR-19
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
College entrance examinations English (second language) holistic evaluation writing evaluation


Four writing samples were obtained from 638 applicants for admission to U.S. institutions as undergraduates or as graduate students in business, engineering, or social science. In addition to the writing sample scores, TOEFL® scores were obtained for all students in the foreign sample. GRE® General Test scores were obtained for students in the U.S. sample and for a subsample of students in the foreign sample. Students in the U.S. sample also took a multiple-choice measure of writing ability. Among the key findings were the following: 1) holistic scores, discourse-level scores, and sentence-level scores were so closely related that the holistic score alone should be sufficient; 2) correlations among topics were as high across topic types as within topic types; 3) scores of ESL raters, English raters, and subject matter raters were all highly correlated, suggesting substantial agreement in the standards used; correlations and factor analyses indicated that scores on the writing samples and the TOEFL test were highly related, but that each also was reliably measuring some aspect of English language proficiency that was not assessed by the other; and 5) correlations of holistic writing sample scores with scores on item types within the sections of the GRE General Test yielded a pattern of relationships that was consistent with the relationships reported in other GRE studies.

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