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Accounting for Random Responding at the End of the Test in Assessing Speededness on the Test of English as a Foreign Language TOEFL

Secolsky, Charles
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-89-11, TOEFL-RR-30
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
English (Second Language), Language Tests, Response Style (Tests), Test Speededness, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Timed Tests


The usual assessment of speededness for rights-only scored tests such as the TOEFL® test (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) does not account for the possibility that examinees respond in a random or patterned fashion to the items at the end of the test as the time limit approaches. Therefore, for the TOEFL test, speededness measures that are based only on the number of items not reached may underestimate the degree to which the test is actually speeded. The present study represented an attempt to determine if Sections 2 and 3 of the TOEFL test are truly speeded according to established criteria. Two exploratory techniques employing regression analyses were used in an attempt to account for the possibility that examinees responded randomly or in a patterned fashion to unconsidered items at the end of each section. The results suggest that Section 3 for pretest administrations may be slightly speeded. It is recommended that more observational or survey methods be used to confirm this finding. If the finding is confirmed, it would be recommended that the TOEFL program investigate ways to increase the amount of time allotted per item.

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