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The Effectiveness of an Essay Section in the American History and Social Studies Test

Modu, Christopher C.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Achievement Tests, American History Tests, College Entrance Examinations, Essay Tests, Social Studies, Test Reliability


The contribution of a 20-minute essay question, given as part of the one-hour achievement test in American History and Social Studies, to the pool of information available on a candidate from an all-objective examination of the College Board Admissions Testing Program is presented in this report. The study limits itself to a consideration of the psychometric issues only. It does not deal with other important issues related to the educational impact of the essay or to the implications of the cost of introducing and maintaining a reliable essay section in the American History and Social Studies test. The results of the study led to the conclusion that the additional information gained by the introduction of an essay section is minimal. Moreover, the correlation of the essay with various subtests or the American History and Social Studies objective test suggests that the obtained essay scores may have reflected more of the factual content of the answers than the other skills. (Author) (49pp.)

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