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Delimiting the Verbal Domain GMAT GRE SAT

Adams, Richard; DeMauro, Gerald E.; Merritt, Ave
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Job Analysis, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test Construction, Verbal Tests


A functional analysis was made of the verbal domain as it is defined by the test development process at Educational Testing Service (ETS). The thesis of the study is that the verbal domain consists of semantic relations that examinees must interpret. Test developers use a system of rules to sample stimulus materials from among infinite possibilities that elicit an interpretive response. Many of these rules are codified in a body of memoranda and corporate publications, and others are in different stages of formation, beginning in the use by individual test development professionals, and eventually becoming part of generally accepted practice. Because the process of test development is central to the formation of the verbal domain, a job analysis approach was used to examine how rules are employed to present the desired semantic relations to the examinees for their interpretation. This approach explains the process of delimiting the verbal domain through a comprehensive review of the uses of the rule system that defines when the items are functioning properly and when they are not. Test developers from two major divisions of ETS were observed and interviewed. They also rated the importance of each of the rules, suggested rules that they use in their work that were not listed, and delineated the professional activities for which these rules are most important. The study indicates that the rule system for sampling semantic relations is an evolving body, both for the individual test developer and for test development as an institution. (113pp.)

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