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Experimental Objective Tests of Writing Ability for the Law School Admission Test LSAT

Coffman, William E.; Papachristou, Judith
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RM-54-05, LSAC-55-01
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Entrance Examinations, Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Test Construction, Writing Evaluation


This paper describes several experimental objective tests of writing ability and the rationale behind them, reports the results of preliminary tryouts, and indicates the next steps planned. A number of papers which had been judged by professors in law schools as "poorly-written" or "well- written" were analyzed. On the basis of this analysis, four hypotheses were developed concerning the components of effective writing and items designed to measure these components were written. The components are termed organization of ideas, expression situations (awareness of audience and the purpose of the communication), error recognition, and combining sentences. One example of each item type is presented. The results of pretesting these four types of items is also presented. In relation to the number of items in each test, the mean scores, standard deviations, and ranges of scores are satisfactory. The reliabilities of the Error Recognition Test, the Expression Situations Test and the Combining Sentences Test turned out to be respectively .65, .48, and .62. A validity study is planned in order to study the relationship of these several tests of writing ability to each other, to measures of ability now included in the Law School Admission Test and to selected criterion measures. To insure enough acceptable items to assemble reliable final forms of each test, additional material is being pretested. Paper read at meeting of AERA, Atlantic City, February 16, 1954.

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