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The Verbal Component in Mathematics Items

Plumlee, Lynnette B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Mathematics Tests, Test Equivalence, Test Items, Verbal Ability, Verbal Tests


In the past, mathematical aptitude tests of the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) included problems containing few or no words. However, a complete reversal of policy took place with new mathematical aptitude testing programs. Some problems contain all words. Evidence from three tests is reported on whether non-verbal mathematics and verbal mathematics item types are equivalent and if there is a higher degree of relationship between verbal aptitude and non-verbal mathematics. The tests were given to 497 women and 534 men, some of whom had been out of school for a long time; and 607 men at the end of their first year in college. Means and standard deviations for part scores are given in Table 1. The reliability of the non-verbal mathematics item type is consistently higher than that of the verbal mathematics type. The correlation between verbal aptitude and verbal mathematics is not consistently different from that between verbal aptitude and non-verbal mathematics. The two types of problems measure abilities that are highly correlated. (SGK).

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