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Strategy Use on Multiple-Choice and Free-Response Items: An Analysis of Sex Differences Among High Scoring Examinees on the SAT-M SAT

Gallagher, Ann M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
650 Scores, Constructed-Response Tests, High Achievement, Mathematics Tests, Multiple Choice Tests, Problem Solving, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Sex Differences


Twenty-four students who scored 650 or more on the SAT-M were asked to think aloud while solving 13 mathematics items in either multiple-choice or free- response format. Strategies students used to solve the items were classified as either algorithmic or insightful. Data analyses indicated that items in the free-response format were significantly more difficult for females than multiple-choice items. No significant difference was found for males. Females were more likely than males to use algorithmic strategies in both the multiple-choice and free-response formats, with no significant difference in types of strategies used in either format. Males were more likely to use insightful strategies in the multiple-choice format than in the free-response format. Finally, on multiple-choice items, both males and females used options to detect calculation errors, however, with females using this strategy somewhat more than males. (45pp.)

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