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Effect of Fewer Questions Per Section on SAT I Scores

Bridgeman, Brent; Trapani, Catherine S.; Curley, W. Edward
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-03-08, CBR-2003-02
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, SAT I, Gender Differences, Racial Differences, Ethnic Differences, Test Time, Reasoning Ability


The impact of allowing more time for each question on SAT I: Reasoning Test scores was estimated by embedding sections with a reduced number of questions into the standard 30-minute equating section of two national test administrations. Thus, for example, questions were deleted from a verbal section that contained 35 questions to produce forms that contained 27 or 23 questions. Scores on the 23-question section could then be compared to scores on the same 23 questions when they were embedded in a section that contained 27 or 35 questions. Similarly, questions were deleted from a 25-question math section to form sections of 20 and 17 questions. Allowing more time per question had a minimal impact on verbal scores, producing gains of less than 10 points on the 200-800 SAT scale. Gains for the math score were less than 30 points. High-scoring students tended to benefit more than lower-scoring students, with extra time creating no increase in scores for students with SAT scores of 400 or lower.

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