Nicholas P. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
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toll-free: (800) 456-9009
The Major Field Tests are used by colleges and universities to measure student academic achievement ... and to assess the educational outcomes of their programs.... The Major Field Tests are based on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Subject Tests, but they are shorter and less difficult, making them suitable for all seniors majoring in a field, not just those planning graduate study.
The content for the Major Field Tests reflects the basic knowledge and understanding gained in the undergraduate curriculum. The tests have been designed to assess mastery of concepts and principles and knowledge expected of students at the conclusion of a major in specific subject areas.
The Major Field Test in Sociology lasts for two hours, and it consists of 140 multiple-choice questions. The questions represent twelve subfields:
- General Theory (about 11 percent of the questions);
- Methodology and Statistics (about 15 percent of the questions);
- Deviance and Social Problems (about 9 percent of the questions);
- Demography (about 4 percent of the questions);
- Family (about 8 percent of the questions);
- Organizations (about 6 percent of the questions);
- Multiculturalism (about 11 percent of the questions);
- Social Change (about 6 percent of the questions);
- Social Institutions (about 9 percent of the questions);
- Social Psychology (about 9 percent of the questions);
- Social Stratification (about 7 percent of the questions);
- Urban/Rural/Community (about 5 percent of the questions).
In addition, about 25 percent of the questions measure skill at critical thinking, and about 11 percent of the questions address issues related to gender. These questions are distributed across the twelve subfields specified above.
Each year, more than 140 colleges and universities use the ETS Major Field Test in Sociology. The test is taken by more than 4,600 students nationwide. In addition to individual scores and percentiles, the ETS calculates an average score for each college and university, as well as the percentile for that score (i.e., the percent of colleges and universities at or below that score. We have been using the ETS Major Field Test in Sociology since 1991, and our record is below:
The evidence suggests that the Sociology discipline at Eckerd College is one of the best programs in the country. We plan to continue using the ETS Major Field Test in Sociology to assess the quality of our program.