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The Effect of Computer-Based Tests on Racial/Ethnic, Gender, and Language Groups

Gallagher, Ann M.; Bridgeman, Brent; Laitusis, Cara Cahalan
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-96-21P, RR-00-08
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Ethnicity Gender General Test (GRE) Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Graduate Record Examinations Board Group Differences Language Praxis Professional Assessment for Beginning Teachers Race Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


This study examined data from several national testing programs to determine whether the change from paper-based administration to computer-based tests (CBTs) influences group differences in performance. Performance by gender, racial/ethnic, and language groups on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), the SAT I: Reasoning (SAT) test, the Praxis: Professional Assessment for Beginning Teachers (Praxis), and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was analyzed to ensure that the change to CBTs does not pose a disadvantage to any of these subgroups, beyond that already identified for paper-based tests. Although all differences were quite small, some consistent patterns were found for some racial/ethnic and gender groups. African American examinees and, to a lesser degree, Hispanic examinees appear to benefit from the CBT format. However, for some tests, the CBT version negatively impacted female examinees. Analyses by gender within race/ethnicity revealed a similar pattern, though only for White females. Analyses for groups based on language showed no consistent patterns, but results indicate that the computer-based TOEFL has increased impact for some language groups-- especially Chinese and Korean groups.

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