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Performance by Gender on an Unconventional Verbal Reasoning Task: Answering Reading Comprehension Questions Without the Passages

Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Reading Comprehension, Reasoning Behavior, Scholastic Assessment Test, Sex Differences, Test Taking Behavior, Verbal Ability


Data were reanalyzed from a previously reported study of the passage dependence of reading comprehension questions being developed for the revised SAT. The objective was to uncover any gender differences in approaches to and performance on a task requiring examinees to answer reading comprehension questions without reading the passages on which the questions were based. Verbally able males and females were compared with respect to their reported use of a variety of test-taking strategies involving reasoning, personal knowledge, and guessing. A few relatively small and often inconsistent differences were detected between male and female test takers. However, far more similarities than differences were noted with respect to both test performance and test-taking behavior. If these results are generalizable to more typical tests of verbal ability, they would seem to suggest that males and females employ quite similar approaches to standardized test taking. (12pp.)

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