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A Study of the Effects of Contextualization and Familiarization on Responses to the TOEFL Vocabulary Test Items TOEFL

Henning, Grant
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-91-23, TOEFL-RR-35
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Context Clues, English Tests, Item Formats, Test Format, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Vocabulary


In general, multiple-choice items using stems with underscored target vocabulary in context performed better than did either multiple-choice single-word-or-phrase matching tasks or multiple-choice supply-type items. Participation in the familiarization activity did not relate significantly or differentially to performance with any item type. However, self-reports of familiarity with particular item types suggested that some types were more familiar than others, and the three most familiar item types, including current TOEFL vocabulary format, exhibited a significant positive correlation between self-report of familiarity with the item type and successful performance with the item type.

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