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Comparability of Testing Using Laptop and Desktop Computers GRE

Potenza, Maria T.; Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Computer Assisted Testing, Computers, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Performance Factors, Test Administration, Test Equivalence


This study was designed to evaluate the degree to which laptop and standard-size desktop computers are likely to produce comparable test results for the GRE General Test. In the event that scores exhibit some degree of noncomparability, the second objective was to suggest ways in which noncomparability might be reduced or eliminated. The subjects of the study were 201 paid volunteers recruited by graduate research assistants on nine university campuses. The desktop computers used were Compaq 486 models; the laptop was a 33mhz Toshiba model. Subjects were assigned sequentially to one of four study conditions determined by the order of administration of the desktop and laptop versions and two different abbreviated test forms. After completing a tutorial explaining testing procedures, all subjects took both forms of the test, one on a laptop computer and the other on the desktop model. On the basis of the results of this study, it would appear that the particular model of laptop computer used in this study is likely to provide test results that are comparable to those obtained with a standard-size desktop model - at least for the standard multiple-choice questions used in the GRE General Test, but probably not for the portion of the test that involves essay writing. With the substitution of a standard-size keyboard, however, it seems very likely that comparable results could be attained for this section of the test also.

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