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Survey of the Literature Relating to the Effects of Cultural Background on Aptitude Testing Scores

Lucas, Charles M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Aptitude Tests, Cultural Influences, Culture Fair Tests, Institutional Characteristics, Parent Background, Racial Factors, Rural Urban Differences, Socioeconomic Influences, Test Bias


Before undertaking a survey of the literature on the effects of cultural background on aptitude test scores, the terms "aptitude" and "cultural influence" are first defined and some of the criticisms of aptitude tests are summarized. These criticisms include 1) the belief of many experts that all aptitude tests test learning, and therefore are culturally biased; and 2) some methodological shortcomings of comparison studies. Cultural groups surveyed provided comparisons on race, occupation, residence (rural or urban), school type (large or small, socioeconomic status of the locale, public or private), and socioeconomic class. Comparisons in all these categories consider score differences among different sub-categories and some consideration of factors involved in the score differences. The racial comparisons also consider the effect of bilingualism on test scores. The occupational group comparisons also consider 1) methods of occupational classification; and 2) score differences among groups classified according to income and educational levels. The socioeconomic class comparisons also consider the nature of composite social status indices and score differences among socioeconomic groups as a function of item type. (JGL)

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