Moving Beyond the Brag Sheet: A Meta-Analysis of Biodata Measures Predicting Student Outcomes

Charlene Zhang, Nathan R. Kuncel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Measures of biographical data, or biodata, provide indicators of one's life history and past experiences. Biodata information is often available in various forms during processes of academic admissions to higher education. Such information can be used, in combination with other factors, to predict students’ future academic and extra-curricular accomplishments. There is a scattered body of literature investigating relationships between standardized biodata measures and a number of student criteria in college. The current study uses meta-analysis methods to summarize findings on how various biodata measures—overall scores or scale scores—predict student accomplishments, including grades, self- and other-rated performances, persistence, and extracurricular accomplishments. Data from 46 independent samples, consisting of 38,478 students and resulting in 74 individual predictor–criterion relationships were analyzed. Results indicate, generally, that biodata measures predict substantially students’ academic and extra-curricular accomplishments. Overall biodata scores correlate with grades at.39, persistence at.25, and point-hour ratios at.35. Students’ accomplishments in leadership, visual and performing arts, music, and science were predicted best by biodata measures developed specifically to target those outcomes. This meta-analytic study provides support for the predictive validity of biographical data inventories with respect to student outcomes and adds justification to the use of biodata in academic selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-121
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Measurement: Issues and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • biodata
  • biographical data
  • extracurricular achievement
  • grades
  • meta-analysis


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