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Sex Differences in the Performance of High-Scoring Examinees on the SAT-M SAT

Gallagher, Ann M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-90-27, CBR-90-03
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, High Achievement, Item Analysis, Mathematics Tests, Performance Factors, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Sex Differences, Test Speededness


Performance of high-scoring males and females on the mathematics section of three forms of the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT-M) was examined to determine how item content, solution strategy, and speededness differentially affect performance. The mathematical and verbal sections of the SAT were also compared for similarities in the performance patterns of high scorers. Items on three forms of the SAT-M were classified on the basis of content and potential solution strategies. Male and female performance in the top 5 percent was examined using the Mantel-Haenszel Differential Item Functioning (MH-DIF) procedure. A main effect was found for item-solution strategy, but not for item content. Males tended to outperform females on items requiring logical estimation or insight even when subjects were matched on years of mathematics course taking and average mathematics grades. Conventional measures indicated that the test was not differentially speeded. However, omit rates indicated that females omitted a greater proportion of items requiring estimation. Different patterns by gender were found on the mathematical and verbal sections of the test. (16pp.)

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