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Sex Differences in the Relationship of Advanced Placement Essay and Multiple-Choice Scores to Grades in College Courses

Bridgeman, Brent; Lewis, Charles
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Advanced Placement Examinations, American History, Biology, Comparative Analysis, English Language and Composition Examination, European History, Grade Prediction


Essay and multiple-choice scores from Advanced Placement (AP) examinations in American History, European History, English Language and Composition, and Biology were matched with freshman grades in a sample of 32 colleges. Multiple-choice scores from the American History and Biology examinations were superior to essays for predicting overall GPA, but essay scores were essentially equivalent to multiple-choice scores for predicting grades in history, English, and biology. In history courses, males and females received comparable grades and had nearly equal scores on the AP essays, but the multiple-choice scores of males were about half of a standard deviation higher than the scores of females. To the extent that the AP history examinations are intended to emulate performance in college history courses, placing greater weight on the essay component of the AP history examinations would reduce sex differences without compromising content or predictive validity. (40pp.)

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