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GMAT and GRE Aptitude Test Performance in Relation to Primary Language and Scores on TOEFL GREB ESL GMAT GRE TOEFL

Wilson, Kenneth M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Graduate Record Examinations Board, English (Second Language), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Students, Performance Factors, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


This study was designed to describe and analyze (a) the performance of foreign candidates taking the GMAT® (Graduate Management Admission Test®) or the GRE® (Graduate Record Examinations®) Aptitude Test in relation to self-reported primary language (English vs. other), and (b) relationships between performance on the respective admissions tests and performance on the TOEFL® test (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) for subgroups of foreign admissions-test candidates identified by cross-file matching as having also taken the TOEFL test (which is recommended as an aid in assessing the level of proficiency in English of individuals whose English language facility is questionable). Data for the study were obtained from files maintained by the three testing programs and analyses were based on data for examinees tested during the period from September 1977 through August 1979. The foreign candidates were classified according to self-reported information as being either candidates for whom English was the primary language (EPL candidates) or candidates for whom English was the second language (ESL candidates). EPL candidates were those who reported that they communicated better in English than in any other language (GRE background question) or that the language in which they were most fluent was English (GMAT background question); ESL candidates were those who reported better communication or greatest fluency in a language other than English. Generally, parallel analyses were conducted for each admissions-test sample. First, attention was focused on differences in the levels and patterns of admissions test scores for foreign EPL and foreign ESL candidates--subgroups assumed to differ in average level of "developed proficiency in English." Then, within each admissions test foreign-candidate sample, detailed analyses were conducted in subsamples composed of those who also were in the TOEFL candidate pool during the 1977-79 study period (i.e., TOEFL/GRE and TOEFL/GMAT candidates). For the TOEFL/GRE and TOEFL/GMAT subsamples, analyses were conducted to assess the extent and nature of the relationships between scores on the respective admissions tests (both of which include verbal and quantitative measures) and scores on the TOEFL test; separate analyses were made for EPL and ESL subgroups. Detailed consideration was given to the characteristics of joint distributions of scores on the admissions tests and the TOEFL test.

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