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Concurrent Validity of Verbal Item Types for Ethnic and Gender Subgroups GREB GRE

Wild, Cheryl L.; McPeek, W. Miles; Koffler, Stephen L.; Braun, Henry I.; Cowell, William R.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-89-23, GREB-84-10P (1989)
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, African Americans, General Test (GRE), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Hispanic Americans, Item Analysis, Minority Groups, Sex Bias, Test Bias, Test Validity, Verbal Tests


The validity of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) has been a high- priority research topic. Research to date concerning the GRE verbal measure suggests that for the GRE, as for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the reading comprehension and sentence completion item types appear to carry the weight of the predictive validity of the verbal measure. However, this finding may have been a result of differences in difficulty and discrimination (as suggested by Schrader 1984), rather than a result of inherent differences in the item types. The purpose of the present study was to examine the verbal item types for the GRE to explore possible reasons for any differences found in subgroup performance and validity. Statistical differences among item types in active forms of the GRE verbal measure were documented, experimental subtests of matching statistical characteristics for the item types were developed, and correlations of the matched and operational item type scores with self- reported grade point averages were compared. Comparisons were made by gender and ethnic group within undergraduate major field categories. The results of this study suggest that all the verbal item types studied exhibit concurrent validity. Differences among the item types are small. All the item types are valid, and they are very highly correlated. Because of this overlapping variance, little concurrent validity is lost by deleting any one item type. Results suggest, that, of the four item types, reading comprehension may, overall, be slightly more valid than the other item types. The analogy item type may contribute slightly less than the other item types to the concurrent validity of the verbal measure. However, these differences are small and do not suggest any specific revisions to the verbal measure of the GRE General Test.

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