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Cognitive Patterns of Gender Differences on Mathematics Admissions Tests

Gallagher, Ann M.; Levin, Jutta; Laitusis, Cara Cahalan
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-96-17P, RR-02-19
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Assessment Gender Graduate Admissions Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Mathematics Problem Solving


A two-part study was conducted to determine whether theoretical work examining gender differences in cognitive processing can be applied to quantitative items on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to minimize gender differences in performance. In Part I, the magnitude of gender differences in performance on specific test items was predicted using a coding scheme. In Part II, a new test was created by using the coding scheme developed in Part I to clone items that elicited few gender-based performance differences. Results indicate that gender differences in performance on some GRE quantitative items may be influenced by cognitive factors such as item context, whether multiple solution paths lead to a correct answer, and whether spatially-based shortcuts can be used.

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