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Report of Experimental Vocabulary Tests, AMC (1-2)

Papachristou, Judith
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Test Construction, Test Format, Test Items, Verbal Tests, Vocabulary


Two forms of the AMC, AMC-1 and AMC-2, were used to try to test depth, rather than breadth, of vocabulary. In AMC-1, each item consists of a word followed by four definitions and subjects are told that in some questions all four definitions of the word are correct; in others, one of the definitions is not correct. They are to decide which, if any, of the definitions is not correct and blacken the space. If all the definitions are correct, they are to blacken space 5 on the answer sheet. They are also told that, in all of the questions, at least three of the definitions are correct. In AMC-2 they are given the same words, also followed by four definitions, but this form includes more incorrect definitions. Here subjects are told to indicate how many definitions are correct. Each form of the test also contains a control section consisting of 30 synonyms. Analysis showed no statistically significant difference between performance on the two forms of the test. However, it is noted that because AMC-1 tells the students that at least three of the definitions are correct, the distractors in AMC-1's items don't pull as many students, and we can tell precisely which distractors are attracting students. This difference is considered a weakness in AMC-2. It is further concluded that any decision to use the item types would have to be based upon further experiments or upon subjective criteria of the importance of vocabulary depth.

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