Does Learning How to Take the Test Matter More Than the Grade?

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SAN DIEGO, March 5, 2018 – The Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University (SDSU) announced today that researchers at the university found the signals employers use to determine the employability of recent college graduates don't necessarily include traditional measures like good references and outstanding grades. In fact, they found that employers who give assessment tests during the interview process ranked the test results as the strongest signal of candidate employability. Their analysis of the quality of social media content posts (aka, “online social footprint”) and interview performance also figure in as significant job competence indicators.

SDSU marketing professors Heather Honea, Paula Peter and Iana Castro found that employers interviewing entry-level candidates relied heavily on the job seeker's employment tests to evaluate applicants, and also considered their “online social footprint”. They also found that employers were less likely to see grades and professional profiles (Linkedin, resumes) as indicators that entry-level candidates possess their desired skill sets.

The research, entitled “Evidence Items as Signals of Marketing Competencies and Workplace Readiness: A Practitioner Perspective” was published in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Marketing Education and was named the journal's “Outstanding Article” for 2017.

“While there is an ongoing debate regarding whether academic curriculum and activities at universities actually prepare students for the job market, ours is the first research that examines what academic activities actually signal competence,” said Honea. “We learned the majority of employers place more value on activities such as case studies and aptitude test results as a valid measure of job skills than overall GPA.”

“In other words,” said Honea, “we found when it comes to completing successful job interviews, performance on tests actually matters.”  

About the Fowler College of Business 
With over 5,000 students, the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University is one of the largest business schools in the U.S. For over 60 years, the college has produced some of the most successful and influential business leaders in the world. For more information, visit

Contact: Suzanne Finch
Public Affairs Officer
Fowler College of Business 
(619) 594-0206
[email protected]

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SOURCE San Diego State University College of Business Administration

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