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An Examination of the Relationships of Academic Coursework With Admissions Test Performance SAT SDQ

Morgan, Rick
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Achievement Tests, College Entrance Examinations, Curriculum, Performance Factors, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Secondary School Curriculum, Student Descriptive Questionnaire (SDQ), Test Preparation


The redesigned Student Descriptive Questionnaire (SDQ) makes it possible to explore the relationships between coursework and performance on the SAT and Achievement Tests. This study used data from the 1987 National Sample Tape, which contains SDQ responses and score information from 100,000 seniors in the class of 1987. The results show that coursework in the disciplines of mathematics, natural science, and foreign languages has the strongest adjusted relationships with SAT-mathematical scores. SAT-verbal scores appear to be most strongly related to the number of years of foreign language coursework. These relationships are generally consistent across ethnic groups and income levels. However, it appears that the relationships are stronger for students with higher grade-point averages. The specific courses that seem to be most strongly related to SAT performance are upper-level courses in mathematics, natural science, and foreign languages. The specific course relationships appear stronger for male than for female examinees. An analysis of Achievement Test data again indicates that upper-level coursework in the three previously mentioned academic areas is most strongly related to performance on the Achievement Tests. All the research findings must be qualified because the study was exploratory. (44pp.)

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