Performance on Reading Comprehension Assessments and College Achievement: A Meta-Analysis

Virginia Clinton-Lisell, Terrill Taylor, Sarah E. Carlson, Mark L. Davison, Ben Seipel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Reading comprehension assessments are used for postsecondary course placement and advising, and they are components of college entrance exams. Therefore, a quantitative understanding of the relationship between reading comprehension assessments and postsecondary academic achievement is needed. To address this need, we conducted a meta-analysis to examine how well performance on college reading assessments (e.g., ACT, COMPASS, Nelson-Denny, SAT) correlated with academic achievement (GPA and college grades). Additionally, to help explain the variation in previous findings, we examined whether the type of reading assessment used, performance indicator, publication bias, or year of publication served as moderators. Results based on 26 studies and a total of 25,090 students revealed a small association between performance on reading comprehension assessments and college grades (r =.29, SE =.02, 95% CI [.25,.33], p <.001), with no variation based on study moderators. These findings highlight the importance of college students’ reading comprehension skills for college academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-211
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of College Reading and Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 College Reading and Learning Association.


  • College students
  • meta-analysis
  • reading comprehension


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