The present study investigated how schemata activated by culturally familiar words might have influenced students” cloze test-taking processes. Sixty Japanese EFL students were divided into two groups with equivalent English reading proficiency. They completed either a culturally familiar or an unfamiliar version of a cloze test. Partially replicating Chihara et al.'s (1989) experiment, several unfamiliar words in the original cloze test passage were changed to more familiar ones in the modified version. Unlike in Chihara et al. (1989), however, students were asked to give verbal reports of their test-taking processes, and to recall the passage after they had completed the tests. Thus, the two groups” test-taking activities were compared in terms of: 1) item performance; 2) expressing correct understanding of the key terms while solving the items and recalling; 3) the amount of text information they used to complete the items; and 4) the quantities and qualities of the final recalls. Results demonstrated that those who read the culturally familiar cloze text tried to solve more items and generally understood the text better, which resulted in better performances than those of the students who read the original text. These results also support the claim that cloze tests can measure higher-order processing abilities.
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