Effects of range restriction and criterion contamination on differential validity of the SAT by race/ethnicity and sex

Jeffrey A. Dahlke, Paul R Sackett, Nathan R Kuncel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We illustrate the effects of range restriction and a form of criterion contamination (individual differences in course-taking patterns) on the validity of SAT scores for predicting college academic performance. College data facilitate exploration of differential validity's determinants because they (a) permit the use multivariate range-restriction corrections to more accurately account for differential range restriction across subgroups and (b) allow for separate examinations of composite performance and specific performance episodes, the latter of which controls for ecological contamination of composite performance due to individuals' choices of performance opportunities. Using data from 363,004 students at 107 U.S. institutions, we found that controlling for course-taking patterns resulted in validity coefficients that were appreciably larger than predictors' correlations with obtained grade point averages (GPAs). The validities of SAT scores for predicting the first-year college performance of Black and Hispanic students were not significantly different from the validity for White students after correcting for both coursetaking patterns and differential range restriction, but significant Black-White differences were detected for predicting 4-year cumulative performance. Validity estimates for predicting both first-year and 4-year cumulative performance were significantly smaller among Asian students than White students after making these corrections. The SAT's observed validity for predicting college GPAs was substantially lower for males than females and, unexpectedly, controlling for course-taking patterns increased male-female validity differences. Implications for personnel selection research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-831
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the College Board to Paul R. Sackett and Nathan R. Kuncel. Paul R. Sackett has served as a consultant to the College Board. This relationship has been reviewed and managed by the University of Minnesota in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. This research is derived from data provided by the College Board. Copyright ©2006-2013 The College Board. www.collegeboard .com.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Cognitive ability
  • Criterion contamination
  • Differential validity
  • Range restriction
  • Standardized testing
  • European Continental Ancestry Group/statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • United States
  • College Admission Test
  • Humans
  • Asian Americans/statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • African Americans/statistics & numerical data
  • Universities
  • Young Adult
  • Academic Performance/statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic Americans/statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Sex Factors
  • Adult
  • Aptitude Tests/standards
  • Female
  • Students/statistics & numerical data

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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