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Characteristics of Examinees Who Leave Questions Unanswered on the GRE General Test Under Rights-Only Scoring GREB GRE

Grandy, Jerilee E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, General Test (GRE), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Guessing Tests, Response Style (Tests), Scoring, Student Characteristics, Test Taking Behavior


The purpose of the study was to determine why some examinees taking the GRE General Test leave items blank when they have been told that they will not be penalized for guessing and have been instructed to guess on questions they cannot answer. Data from the October 1984 test administration were analyzed to establish whether nonguessers were different in any way from those who completed, or nearly completed, each test section. The tendency to leave items blank was most evident among the following grups of examinees: women; non-Whites, particulary Blacks; resident aliens or foreign non-citizens; members of families with less than average formal education; older examinees; examinees who were out of school or already in graduate school; examinees who had taken the GRE previously, under old instructions; examinees planning to study humanities or social sciences; examinees with lower than average undergraduate grades; examinees with lower than average GRE scores, even when the scores were corrected for not guessing. Survey results suggested that many nonguessers did not fully understand guessing strategies and may have been confused by the new instructions because they conflicted with what the examinees had learned earlier. Their questionnaire responses were often inconsistent, and many claimed to have read and heard instructions not to guess.

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