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GRE® Test Fairness and Validity

ETS and the GRE® Program make ensuring the fairness and validity of GRE tests throughout the test development, administration and scoring processes a high priority. To ensure that these goals are reached, ETS has developed a meticulous system of internal checks and balances, and audit teams routinely verify that all tests and services meet rigorous professional standards such as those outlined by the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association and National Council on Measurement in Education.

Fairness

Fairness concerns are an integral part of the development and scoring of all tests. The many activities that ensure fairness include:

  • fairness evaluations by trained reviewers
  • routine analyses of test questions to establish that questions do not unfairly contribute to group differences
  • rigorous training for all persons involved in the development or scoring of test questions to ensure that all examinees have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities
  • appropriate accommodations (e.g., alternate test formats, extra time) for examinees who have disabilities or health-related needs

Validity

Validity research and analyses establish that the test measures what it is supposed to measure. The GRE Program has documented evidence of the following types of validity in GRE tests:

  • construct validity (the test measures the skills/abilities that should be measured)
  • content validity (the test measures appropriate content)
  • predictive validity (the test predicts success)
  • consequential validity (the test demonstrates that adverse consequences are minimal)
  • external validity (the test has the expected relationship with other measures of the same construct)

Although ETS works to accumulate validity evidence at each stage of the delivery and scoring process, the initial impetus for validity research comes from feedback from members of the graduate school community, who provide information about the skills and abilities that they consider essential for success in graduate school.

Verbal Reasoning Measure

The Verbal Reasoning measure of the GRE® General Test assesses the ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse and reason from incomplete data, understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent, and summarize text and distinguish major from minor points. There is an emphasis on complex verbal reasoning skills. These skills have been identified by graduate school deans and faculty as critical for success in graduate school, including business and law.

Quantitative Reasoning Measure

The Quantitative Reasoning measure of the GRE General Test assesses basic mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. The measure tests the ability to solve problems using mathematical models, and to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information. There is an emphasis on quantitative reasoning skills.

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