Preparing for High-Stakes Admissions Tests: A Moderation Mediation Analysis

Jed. I. Appelrouth, DeWayne Moore, Karen M. Zabrucky, Janelle H. Cheung


For decades researchers have examined the effects of SAT preparation, but only recently have they begun to explore the factors that inform successful test preparation (Appelrouth & Zabrucky, 2717). In their regression analysis of the factors of successful SAT preparation, Appelrouth, Moore, & Zabrucky (2015) found significant effects of homework completion, instructional hours, practice and official testing, distribution of study, and timing of test preparation. The current study builds upon that research in constructing a functional model of SAT preparatory factors. It was hypothesized that direct and indirect relationships would exist between preparatory factors, and that some of these relationships would be moderated by student characteristics such as gender and socioeconomic status. Archival data from 1,933 students were analyzed, and significant direct relations were reported between tutoring start time and the following variables: session distribution, individual tutoring hours, group tutoring hours, homework completion, number of official tests, number of practice tests and total SAT increase. Commencing test preparation earlier yielded positive direct and indirect effects, and session distribution, individual and group tutoring hours, and official SAT and practice SAT tests all mediated the relationship between start time and SAT score increase. School type and socioeconomic status moderated the relationship between start time and individual tutoring hours, and school type also moderated the relationship between homework completion and score increase. The results of this analysis have implications for the thousands of high schools and educational entities that offer SAT coaching programs. By encouraging earlier program start times, adequate instructional hours, distribution of sessions and practice effects, administrators can create more effective SAT preparation programs to serve their college-bound students.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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