The Relationship of Scores Based on GRE General Test Item Types to Undergraduate Grades: An Exploratory Study for Selected Subgroups

Wilson, Kenneth M.
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Grade point average student characteristics test format


This study used multiple discriminant analysis (MDA) to assess differences among subgroups defined in terms of sex and undergraduate major area, and ethnic group and undergraduate major area, with respect to patterns of performance of GRE item-type part scores. Special subscores based on item types included in the current GRE General Test were derived for the study. For each test, the criterion groups were found to be differentiated significantly along both a general ability dimension (represented by the principal discriminant function of part scores, all positively weighted), and a secondary, bipolar dimension (defined by a second significant discriminant function, uncorrelated with the general ability dimension, that reflected differences in patterns of performance on the part scores). The part scores (especially vocabulary and reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning and logical reasoning) were found to exhibit different patterns of correlations with the SR-UGPA criterion. With respect to both patterns of part-score means (mean scores on the second discriminant function) and patterns of part-score correlations with SR-UGPA, major-area differences appeared to be stronger and more systematic than ethnic group or sex differences. Study findings indicate that the item-type scores, especially scores based on verbal and analytical ability item types, provide more information about group differences than is provided by the total ability scores. Questions regarding the incremental predictive value of this information remain unresolved.

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