Admission testing for higher education: A multi-cohort study on the validity of high-fidelity curriculum-sampling tests


We investigated the validity of curriculum-sampling tests for admission to higher education in two studies. Curriculum-sampling tests mimic representative parts of an academic program to predict future academic achievement. In the first study, we investigated the predictive validity of a curriculum-sampling test for first year academic achievement across three cohorts of undergraduate psychology applicants and for academic achievement after three years in one cohort. We also studied the relationship between the test scores and enrollment decisions. In the second study, we examined the cognitive and noncognitive construct saturation of curriculum-sampling tests in a sample of psychology students. The curriculum-sampling tests showed high predictive validity for first year and third year academic achievement, mostly comparable to the predictive validity of high school GPA. In addition, curriculum-sampling test scores showed incremental validity over high school GPA. Applicants who scored low on the curriculum-sampling tests decided not to enroll in the program more often, indicating that curriculum-sampling admission tests may also promote self-selection. Contrary to expectations, the curriculum-sampling tests scores did not show any relationships with cognitive ability, but there were some indications for noncognitive saturation, mostly for perceived test competence. So, curriculum-sampling tests can serve as efficient admission tests that yield high predictive validity. Furthermore, when self-selection or student-program fit are major objectives of admission procedures, curriculum-sampling test may be preferred over or may be used in addition to high school GPA.

PLoS ONE, 13