Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Eads, Michael T.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Physics


This research project looks to analyze the ability of the ACT and other standardized tests to predict student success in introductory physics classes at Northern Illinois University (NIU). Admissions data from NIU was collected by the physics department from a total of 4262 students enrolled in introductory physics courses during the Fall 2012 semester until the Spring 2017 semester. This data includes academic level, gender, race/ethnicity, composite ACT score, high school GPA, and final letter grade. In particular, the composite ACT score of students was directly compared with their final letter grade from the student’s introductory physics class. The student sample was then grouped according to each student’s academic level, gender, and by whether or not the physics class required calculus. Each group of students then had their ACT score correlated with their final class grade to determine if the correlation was stronger for specific subgroups of students.

As a result of this research, there is a significant (p < 0.001) correlation between composite ACT score, and grade earned. However, the data has a large amount of variance, with students who received 14’s on their ACT earning A’s and students with perfect scores on the ACT earning F’s. As such, the findings show that there exists a high amount of unexplained variability within the data.


43 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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