ETS® Major Field Tests Design

Developed by Educators in the Field

The Major Field Tests are developed in partnership with experienced teaching faculty members representing all of the relevant areas of a discipline. They participate in determining test specifications, test questions and types of scores reported. Each question is put through rigorous sensitivity and reliability testing by ETS assessment experts. Every effort is made to include questions that assess the most common and important topics and skills as supported by feedback from our curriculum surveys from institutions around the United States.

In addition to factual knowledge, the tests evaluate students’ abilities to analyze and solve problems, understand relationships and interpret material.

Test Content Customization

To customize the content of the Major Field Tests, academic departments can choose to add one of these two options:

  1. Up to two subgroup questions, which can help an institution identify performance of a specific group or compare across different groups (e.g. major, gender, ethnicity, transfer status).
  2. Up to 50 locally authored questions, which can be used to cover an area of concentration unique to the program. These questions can be added to the end of both the paper-and-pencil or online Major Field Tests. (Note: The addition of locally authored questions will lengthen test time and is therefore not available as an option for remote proctored testing.)

The combined information from your own content plus your scores from the Major Field Test can help give you a better insight into your program.

To ensure fairness and content relevance, the tests are revised approximately every three to five years.

National Comparative Data

An annual Comparative Data Guide is published for each academic year. The guide contains tables of scaled scores and percentiles for individual student scores, departmental mean scores and any subscores or group assessment indicators that the test may support. The tables of data are drawn from senior-level test takers at a large number of diverse institutions.

Nearly 1,500 colleges and universities employ one or more of the Major Field Tests for student achievement and curriculum evaluation each year. For more information on how to obtain these reports, view the Comparative Data Reports page.

Promotional Links

Major Field Test Administrator Portal (Program Workshop)

Order tests, manage test administrations, run reports (for existing customers only).