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Test Fairness and Validity

The GRE® Program, ETS and the GRE Board make ensuring the fairness and validity of GRE tests throughout the test development, administration and scoring processes a high priority. To ensure that these goals are reached, ETS has developed a meticulous system of internal checks and balances, and audit teams routinely verify that all tests and services meet rigorous professional standards such as those outlined by APA, AERA and NCME. In addition, our Research & Development team conducts surveys, committee work, extensive data analysis and a variety of studies that focus on measurements, evaluations and comparisons.

Fairness

Fairness concerns are an integral part of the development and scoring of all tests. The many activities that ensure fairness include:

  • employing specially-trained fairness reviewers to ensure test questions meet rigorous standards
  • pilot-testing, pretesting and ongoing statistical analyses of test questions to ensure questions are fair and that they do not unfairly contribute to group differences
  • rigorous training for all persons involved in the development or scoring of test questions to ensure that all examinees have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities
  • appropriate accommodations (e.g., alternate formats, extra time) for examinees who have disabilities or health-related needs

Validity

Validity research and analyses establish that the test measures what it is supposed to measure. The types of validity support that the GRE Program has documented include:

  • construct validity (the test measures the skills/abilities that should be measured)
  • content validity (the test measures appropriate content)
  • predictive validity (the test predicts success)
  • consequential validity (the test demonstrates that adverse consequences are minimal)
  • external validity (the test has the expected relationship with other measures of the same construct)

Although ETS works to accumulate validity evidence at each stage of the delivery and scoring process, the initial direction for validity research derives from feedback from members of the graduate school community, including business and law, who provide information about the skills and abilities that they consider essential for success in graduate-level programs.