The Relationship among Academic Discipline, Gender and Total Exam Score on Test-Taking Strategies: The Case of the General English Section of the National Iranian PhD Entrance Exam

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Sobhe-Sadegh Institute of Higher Education, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.

3 University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.


The investigation of test-taking strategies is a crucial aspect of test validation studies especially if the test is a high-stakes one. The purpose of this study was to uncover if gender, academic discipline and the total exam score influence on the test-taking strategies employed by the candidates of the General English Section of the National Iranian PhD Entrance Exam which is a high-stakes test in Iran. Four sub-components of the strategies, namely, cognitive/metacognitive, test wiseness, time management and emotional strategies were investigated. The MANOVA results indicated no statistically significant difference between male and female exam candidates in the employment of strategies. However, Engineering and Basic Sciences academic discipline candidates outperformed the Humanities in the application of cognitive/metacognitive and test wiseness strategies. Moreover, the total exam score was influenced by the emotional strategies. The findings of this pioneering study also have implications for test designers, curriculum developers and teachers.