Universities have increasingly sought to provide accommodative services to students with learning disorders and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in recent decades thereby creating a need for diagnostic batteries designed to evaluate cognitive abilities relevant to academic performance. Given that accommodative services (extended time on tests, alternate test forms, etc.) provide incentive to distort impairment steps should be taken to estimate the rate at which students distort impairment and to evaluate the accuracy with which symptom distortion is identified. In order to address these concerns, the Word-Memory Test, Test of Memory Malingering, and Fake Bad Scale (of the MMPI-2) were compared in terms of their clinical utility in a university sample within a two-part study. In the first portion of the study, an analogue design (which included a control group (n = 29) and an experimental group (n = 30) that was asked to simulate an academic disability) was used to calculate the sensitivity and specificity of each measure. In the second portion of this study, scores were collected for 121 consecutively presenting students who were evaluated for academic difficulty at a large private university. Failure rates on measures of malingering placed the base rate of malingering within this population between 10 and 25 percent. The Word-Memory Test (WMT) demonstrated the most robust sensitivity and specificity. The modest sensitivity of the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM) can be partially explained by the ease with which the measure is completed by university students as well as the format of its presentation. Although the scores on Fake Bad Scale (FBS) are modestly correlated with group membership (between controls and simulators), its use should be discouraged in this context due to poor sensitivity and to high rates of false positives.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





malingering, university students, Fake Bad Scale, TOMM, WMT

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Psychology Commons